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Australian robot builds three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in three days

James Hall, November 15, 2018 7:00PM The Australian

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Laying bricks by hand is time-consuming and is a skilled job. media_cameraLaying bricks by hand is time-consuming and is a skilled job.

technology

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An Australian robot built a three-bedroom, two-bathroom brick house in three days this week.

The robotic arm worked from a 3D model to complete the fully automated* project for Perth-based company FBR.

The company (formerly known as Fastbrick Robotics) said engineers* confirmed that the structure, which was completed on Monday in Western Australia, met required building standards.

An essential* part of the project is a truck the company designed called Hadrian X. It is loaded with pre-cut bricks and driven to the construction site, where a laser-guided robotic attachment feeds blocks through an arm and continuously places them into position.

An FBR robotic bricklayer building a smaller structure as a trial run before the full house build. Picture: supplied media_cameraAn FBR robotic bricklayer building a smaller structure as a trial run before the full house build. Picture: supplied

“We now have the world’s only fully automated, end-to-end bricklaying solution, with a massive market waiting for it,” chief executive Mike Pivac said.

Hadrian X had previously built smaller structures in FBR’s Perth headquarters.

VIDEO: This is a computer-generated demonstration of an earlier FBR robotic bricklayer

The price of FBR shares* on the Australian Stock Exchange* increased by 18 per cent on Wednesday, which shows people would like to invest in the company, which will now expand to other countries that want to use the technology.

“We now begin the next exciting phase for the company,” Mr Pivac said.

FBR said it has partnered with Wienerberger — the world’s largest producer of bricks — as well as striking* an agreement with big machinery company Caterpillar in Saudi Arabia.

The project could improve safety by taking the heavy lifting off labourers*, while its accuracy should reduce waste by better managing materials.

Mark Pivac is the inventor of a world-first automated bricklaying machine. He is pictured here in 2016 with an earlier version of the Hadrian X system. media_cameraMark Pivac is the inventor of a world-first automated bricklaying machine. He is pictured here in 2016 with an earlier version of the Hadrian X system.

The bricks are laid quickly and the Hadrian X allows builders to pre-make other parts of a building because they know that the brickwork will be exactly as the plans show it should be. The accuracy of the build, as well as the adhesive* used in place of mortar*, cuts power bills by making it thermally* and acoustically* efficient, the company said.

FBR has plans to provide fast construction to disaster-ravaged* areas around the world.

And despite doing a job traditionally done by skilled tradespeople, the company believes it will have a minimal effect on jobs.

“The whole concept of this technology came around because there was a shortage of bricklayers,” a spokesman said.

“The challenge for the bricklaying industry is that it is hard work on the body — it’s not a career people typically have for a very long time.”

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GLOSSARY

automated: programmed to do the task without humans

engineers: design and construct experts

essential: necessary

shares: part ownership of a company

Australian Stock Exchange: the organisation that people buy and sell shares through

striking: deciding on

labourers: workers

adhesive: glue or mortar

mortar: cement-like adhesive that sticks bricks together

thermally: to do with heat

acoustically: to do with sound

ravaged: wrecked

LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY

QUICK QUIZ

1. How many days did it take?

2. What is Hadrian X?

3. Has Hadrian X ever made anything before?

4. Why does this technique allow other parts of the building to be pre-made?

5. Why does the company think it is no threat to bricklayers’ jobs?

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES

According to the article there are lots of benefits of this new bricklaying robot.

Make a list of how using this bricklaying robot could be beneficial in the construction industry.

Write a list of questions you have about the use of this robot.

Can you see any possible problems with using this technology? List these as well.

Curriculum links: English, Technologies — Design and Technologies

Time: Allow 20 minutes

Extension: Imagine you on the sales team at FBR. You are trying to sell your bricklaying robots to construction companies. Use information from the article to write a sales pitch that you could present to each company to persuade them to purchase the bricklaying robot. Make sure you mention all the benefits of using the bricklaying robot instead of skilled tradespeople. Practice giving your sales pitch with expression. When you are ready present it to your class.

Curriculum links: English, The Arts — Drama, Technology — Design and Technologies

Time: Allow 30 minutes

VCOP ACTIVITY

With a partner see if you can you identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: If you built a robot, what job do you think it should do? Why? Use full sentences. No one-word answers.

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