There are many companies pushing the limits of possibility with robotics in construction. One such company is Construction Robotics. Construction Robotics (CR) was founded in 2007 with the goal of developing affordable, leading-edge robotics and automation equipment for the construction industry. Construction Robotics’ first and flagship product is SAM100 (Semi-Autonomous Mason), a bricklaying robot for onsite and prefabricated masonry construction. SAM is designed to work with a mason, assisting with the repetitive and strenuous task of lifting and placing each brick. The mason continues to own the site setup and final wall quality, but with improved efficiency through the operation of SAM.
SAM can be thought of as a mobile prefabrication lab for brickwork. Builders can use SAM to build walls offsite, or bring SAM on-site to get prefab quality while reducing shipping costs.
SAM in conjunction with CR’s 3D brick mapping software streamlines the building process from digital design to fabrication. The software automatically corrects for any variation in the as-built dimensions, allowing masons to resolve problems before beginning production. Complex and custom patterns can easily be executed by SAM.
SAM is constantly capturing and uploading a variety of data points, including the number, size, and placement of each brick, the date, time, and temperature, the mortar slump, bed gap, ambient RH, and more. CR's software provides a real-time feed that allows for monitoring of daily progress from anywhere and at anytime, with detailed analytics displaying SAM’s performance.
SAM100 is a bricklaying robot for onsite and prefabricated masonry construction
Benefits of SAM100:
- Little to no mortar in the cavities
- High amounts of control with mortar placement, full heads and beds
- Wall bond laid out and pre-determined
- Software automatically corrects for onsite variation (for instance, windows to be centered can require say, 7 different brick sizes)
- Measures every brick
- Software determines brick locations of cut, color, or detail bricks
- Head join alignment, including bond alignment joints
- Mason focuses on quality
- Robotic placement coupled to digital design
Features easily mapped with SAM100:
- Recess or corbel
- Repeated patterns
- Contrast brick
Robotics in Construction: Smart Lift Assist
Construction Robotics' newest program is MULE, a smart lift assist for the jobsite
CR’s newest program is MULE (Material Unit Lift Enhancer), an ergonomic material handling hoist designed for the construction industry. Launched in January of 2018, MULE’s Smart Lift Assist makes lifting objects up to 135 lbs feel weightless.
Benefits of MULE:
- Workforce - helps with labor challenges by extending careers and attracting new talent
- Production - decreases the per block set cost
- Productivity - significantly increases productivity by working smarter, and more consistently throughout the day
- Ergonomics - eliminates the fatigue and physical wear and tear associated with repetitive heavy lifting
- ROI - quick ROI of under 6 months in many cases
- Reduces Waste - reduces waste and block chipping/damage that comes from multi-step handling
One of Construction Robotics’ main goals is to create automation technologies that improve the efficiency, productivity, and quality of life for construction workers. CR is responding with pragmatic solutions to two major challenges facing the construction industry: first, a labor shortage and lack of interest by younger generations of taking on heavy construction roles; and secondly, the limited improvements made by the construction industry in technological capabilities, production methods, and scale relative to other industries. The development of collaborative robots such as SAM who can work alongside human counterparts to assist with more strenuous tasks provide a major opportunity to improve the productivity, efficiency, and quality of life of construction workers today (and allow opportunities for tech-savvy youth to take on new roles in the industry). SAM doesn’t replace masons as much as it frees them to work on other aspects of the building, get home earlier, and get to the next project sooner.
About this series: In June 2018, Autodesk and MassRobotics (a Boston-based nonprofit innovation hub focused on needs of the robotics community) held the Robotics in Construction Summit at the Autodesk BUILD Space in Boston. We've documented the information and discussions from the summit and packaged them into a Robotics in Construction eBook.