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: