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Robots in construction

The use of robotics in construction is still very much in its infancy, however the potential to revolutionise the sector with technology is now edging closer to becoming a reality. Meet the two robots that are currently getting their hands dirty in construction, so you don’t have to.

Robots

Q-Bot

The Q-Bot is a little robot that can be sent into the under-floor void through an entry hole drilled by a technician. Once under the floorboards, it scans the area to give it a detailed map of the area and proceeds to squirt insulation fed by a tube in order to seal any cracks.

Q bot

According to the makers of Q-Bot, by using their system of underfloor insulation can save more energy than replacing single glazed windows with double glazing and replacing a 15-year-old central-heating boiler with a brand new one. Loss of heat can be reduced by up to 86%.

Mathew Holloway, Managing Director at Q-Bot says “The amount of heat lost through the floor is actually far greater than people might realise.”

Although partly controlled remotely by an on-site technician, the little robot surveys the space automatically and makes autonomous decisions about the best way to apply the foam-based insulation and deal with any obstructions – in other words it uses a very primitive form of artificial intelligence.

Beginning to sound more like science fiction than reality, Matthew quips “it carries out operations autonomously, but it’s not quite at the level of sending a robot to Mars.”

The benefits of using Q-Bot is obvious – Warmer homes and lower bills, minus the stress of intrusive construction works that quite literally rip the floor up from underneath you.

Sam the bricklaying robot

Construction Robotics have developed the semi-automated mason (SAM) which can lay up to 3,000 bricks in a day, at a rate of approximately 230 per hour. In comparison, a typical human brick mason usually lays 300 to 500 per day.

Sam won’t be threatening anybody’s jobs just yet, as he is designed to work with the mason rather than replace them. The idea is that by assisting with the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick, the mason will have more time to focus on detail work, quality control and other tasks requiring skilled labour. 

The robotics company say that their robot (currently still in the development phase) will offer multiple benefits to a project, including a consistent production rate and performance, reduced physical strains workforces, lower health and safety risks and allow a better use of a bricklayer’s time.

Watch a video of Sam at work below:

The makers of SAM estimate the device could result in 30% cost savings to masonry companies, allowing them to be more competitive in the industry.

Are we ready for robots?

AI and the use of robots have always raised logistical and moral debate. What would the affect be on the construction workforce? Is it ethical to tirelessly put to work a machine that thinks and feels? Admittedly, AI is a long way off, however, with technology advancing at an astounding rate in the midst of the information age, the gap between now and then is ever closing in. Robotic colleagues could soon be a reality. Isaac Asimov once said “I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.” Imagine your job in construction without the technology we now rely on – then look bravely and eagerly into the future. 

Published on 25/02/2015


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