We’ve seen it coming for years now, with sci-fi movies predicting for decades that robots would overtake our jobs (or kill us), and technology companies making major advancements in the robotic field, we naturally began to wonder when our jobs would be taken over. A recent study has estimated that more than 10 million UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by robots within the next 15 years, with a 30% chance of those roles within the construction industry being replaced.
We’d like to think that the trade industry would be fairly safe from becoming automated. Could a robot plaster a wall anytime soon? Fix the plumbing or wiring? Probably in a 100 years, but anytime soon? Not likely – but there have, however, been advancements within the construction sector and certain tasks are now becoming automated.
Meet ‘SAM’, or Semi-Automated Mason. SAM is a new robot that is able to lay 3,000 bricks a day – 7 times the amount a human worker can do in the same time frame. Already being used over in the USA, it is looking to be introduced to the UK within the next 2 years. At the moment ‘SAM’ needs to be heavily supervised, with human workers still needed to assist the set up of the robot, lay bricks at difficult angles, as well as clear up afterwards, so it isn’t quite all there yet.
Saying this though, construction workers shouldn’t rejoice just yet – Australian firm ‘Fastbrick Robotics’ have developed a robot capable of completing the procedure unaccompanied, nicknamed ‘Hadrian X’. It’s capable of laying 1,000 bricks an hour. Using 3D printing, the robot is able to cut, grind, mill bricks and place them to fit the structure using construction adhesives to hold everything together. The robot completely eliminates the need for a human workforce all together… and that’s just scary, right?
The automation of the industry doesn’t stop there, with Japanese construction machinery giant, Komatsu, going one step further – using drones to provide the eyes for automated bulldozers. The drones send 3D models of a building site to a computer, which then feeds the information to unmanned machinery to plot their course; it’s all very technical and complicated, but it’s real.
Of course, we’re many years away from robots fully taking jobs away in the tradesman industry, but these baby steps are setting the foundation for a future of a human-less workforce.