Caterpillar Just Bought A Stake In Australia's One-Armed Robot Bricklayer

Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images

The US construction machinery giant Caterpillar has just invested in Aussie company Fastbrick Robotics, the Perth-based maker of the one-armed robot bricklayer.

The two also have a memorandum of understanding to develop a collaboration on the development, manufacturing, sales, and services of Fastbrick's robotic bricklaying technology.

Fastbrick Robotics has also agreed to deal exclusively with Caterpillar for the development and potential commercialisation of the bricklaying technology during the term of the MOU, initially for 12 months.

Fastbrick has been looking for a partner with global reach to help it get its technology into markets across the world.

Caterpillar, through a wholly owned subsidiary, is investing $US2 million ($A2.6 million) in Fastbrick Robotics. The Perth-based company will issue fully paid ordinary shares to Caterpillar at $A0.10 each.

Fastbrick shares jumped 23% to $0.13 on the news.

Caterpillar will also have an option to invest a further $US8 million ($A10.4) in Fastbrick Robotics at $A0.20 a share.

“Fastbrick Robotics is delighted to sign a MOU with Caterpillar and welcomes the company as a new shareholder," says managing director Mike Pivac.

"Caterpillar is a globally recognised industry leader, and we look forward to collaborating with the company and uniting our teams to share ideas, pursue innovation and explore opportunities to commercialise our unique technology.”

Fastbrick is currently building a commercial version of its robot brickaying machine, Hadrian X, which will cost about $2 million when it goes into full production in 2019.

The Hadrian X requires minimal human interaction and works day and night, laying up to 1,000 bricks an hour — about the output of two human bricklayers for a day.

The prototype Hadrian 105 robot, the first of its kind, can be seen in action below:

WATCH MORE: Tech News


Comments

    Um, where's the mortar? There's gaps between the bricks.

      NB: Not guaranteed to defend against huffing, puffing wolves.

    aren't we moving to pre-fab or 3D printing? what's the point of bricks?

      A few things. First, we're not there yet. Pre-fab and 3D printed stuff looks good, but its nowhere near ready for widespread use. This is.

      Secondly, there will be markets for it even if pre-fab and 3D take off. Some areas or clients just wont want them.

      As it is, if its building a house in 2 days that would normally take a fortnight, that's a pretty significant cost and time saving to be had. Meaning cheaper housing.

        Building a house in two days ??? I sincerely hope you meant just the brick skin around the house. The house itself takes months.

    Just another excuse for the bogans from the CFMEU to have a strike...

      ... any excuse to go union bashing??? If it wasn't for Australian unions we'd all still be working 12 hour days, 6 days a week.

        If they strike the machine will just get even more work.

        For half the pay as well.

          What’s the saying on most sites..? “F%ck all money for a hard days work” usually said by my coworkers who have zero work ethic, but are level 100 at trouble making, complaining, ciggie breaks and creeping on the female office staff, thinking they have game.

            Sad but true

              Don’t get me wrong, there are good workers on this site, but there are a shitload of bludgers. You could offer them a million dollars and sex, and they’d complain about not receiving two million plus an orgy...

      I’m sure they will install CFMEU stop work protocols onto the operating system of this thing, just to be sure that when the humans strike, the machines do, too...

    Interesting, however they seem to have some challenges to work out that are fundamental to the build:
    1. How will it go operating around a structural frame?
    2. How is the mortar applied and bricks properly bedded?

      Perhaps a larger locking brick that doesn't require mortar or insulation? Without the need for somebody to carry the brick they can be a lot heavier.

      Pretty much just concrete walls in a flat pack maybe.

        Insulation doesn't go on the bricks. It fits between the studs of the wooden walls.

          Thicker stronger walls don't require insulation or a frame.

    It's a Perth company. No studs on the walls, no wall insulation... 99.9% of Perth homes are double brick.

      Even interval walls ?

        Yep, our whole house is brick, double brick exterior with brick internals. Great for hanging heavy shit but a pain in the arse for installing new powerpoints and hanging pictures haha. Wall plugs everywhere! Great for bringing a girl home when you live in a share house though :P. Also not as nice a finish as its all white set plaster put on by hand, not gyprock.
        I think this machine will definitely be used for just external walls and use stud frame internals as it would be a clusterfu*k for the machine but happy to be proven wrong :)

    "laying up to 1,000 bricks an hour — about the output of two human bricklayers for a day."
    Ok so how long would it take to pay off the $2m price tag?? No doubt you also have to add in one human operator plus servicing/parts costs. I'm guessing quite a while... but then again I don't know the going rate for a bricklayer.

    Quite a few non-construction folk here, eh?

    You'd always hire the machine short term to speed through a site. It would cost a lot per day but you offset by savings in worker safety (no carrying and flinging bricks!).

    Mortar would be added by humans by the looks of it.

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