Has Time for Robots Finally Come?

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Robison Wells

Until recently, talk of robotics on jobsites has mainly been experimental. Brick-laying robots, 3D printers, and rebar tying bots have been the primary presence of robotics on the industry. The promise of robots has always been that they could lower operating costs and save labor, but they have never been cheap or efficient—at least not as cheap and efficient as necessary to replace existing technologies and trends. But now, when the labor shortage has grown so drastically, and efficiency is down so much, robots are finally becoming a more appealing solution.

In Illinois, Clark Construction Group and Blinderman Construction are using a New York-based robotics firm to hoist and lay bricks at a new $52 million project. The robotics company, Construction Robotics, uses two machines called MULE and SAM, to install more than one million square feet of walls.

The market research firm Tractica estimates that in the next five years robots on the workforce will increase ten times, to a $226 million per year business. Over that period, Tractica estimates 7,000 new robots will be deployed for construction and demolition.

“In the future, I do think we’ll see a lot of autonomous equipment out on job sites,” Noah Ready-Campbell, Founder and CEO of Built Robotics, said in a Robotics Business Review interview. “I also would emphasize that we’ll need plenty of workers, too. People are just much better at improvising and making judgment calls, and that’s critical, especially in the early stages of a product.”

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