Aussie bricklaying robot brings the fight to builders

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Aussie bricklaying robot brings the fight to builders

Fastbrick Robotics lands on the ASX.

An Australian robotics firm is aiming to disrupt the local bricklaying market with a machine it says will be able to build a four-bedroom house in two days, without any human interaction.

Fastbrick Robotics will today begin trading on the Australian Stock Exchange after a backdoor listing by DMY Capital in June this year.

The firm has spent more than $7 million over ten years designing and developing its prototype robotic building machine, the Hadrian 105, which can automatically lay bricks over an entire residential building site.

A recent $5.7 million capital raising - much more than the $3 million DMY was targeting - will be used to build the Hadrian 109, which will be able to lay bricks for an entire house and allow Fastbrick to roll out the technology commercially.

The robot creates a 3D CAD program of the structure, as designed by a builder or architect, and uses proprietary software to calculate the location of every brick in the building.

Laser scanning technology surveys the foundation once a concrete slab has been laid, and then loads and lays bricks using a 28m articulated telescopic boom.

Mortar is pumped and applied to the brick via the robotic laying head, and a laser alignment system ensures an accuracy laying rate of within half a milimetre.

The robot is intended to take some of the heat out of hot property markets like Sydney and Melbourne, in which builders are in short supply.

Fastbrick says its machine could eventually lay 1000 bricks an hour, compared with the 400-odd bricks a human bricklayer can lay in one day. The prototype Hadrian currently lays 300 per hour.

According to its prospectus, the firm intends to first target the rendered brick/ block house construction market segment, which saw almost 18,000 new homes go up last year. It will specifically focus on Western Australia, which Fastrbrick believes offers it an 85 percent addressable market.

However, the company is not first to market with the concept.

When the Hadrian 109 enters large scale manufacture and commercial rollout in 2017, it will be competing with the likes of US-based Construction Robotics, whose SAM machine works alongside human bricklayers to complete tasks like applying mortar and laying bricks in a simple structure.

Humans are still needed to handle more complex areas like corners, and the machine is only capable of laying around 300 bricks per hour.

The SAM machine is further alongside the development stage than the Hadrian, with the first robots to go on sale for US$500,000.

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