This Robot Works 500% Faster Than Humans, and It Puts Thousands of Jobs at Risk

  • A brick-laying robot that works 500 percent faster than humans is coming to the U.K. in a few months.
  • The robot, created by New York firm Construction Robotics, highlights the issues of employee displacement caused by automation in the construction industry.

    Brick by Brick

    Meet SAM — short for Semi-Automated Mason — created by the New York based Construction Robotics. SAM is capable of laying 3,000 bricks per day, and he is coming to the U.K. in a few months.

    This Robot Works 500% Faster Than Humans, And it Puts Thousands of Jobs At Risk
    Credit: Construction Robotics

    SAM can work about 500 percent faster than humans, and discrepancy in labor cost that causes is significant. According to a report by Zero Hedge, 3,000 bricks boils down to a cost of 4.5 cents per brick. Based on a $15 per hour minimum wage rate and benefits, a human bricklayer with an average efficiency of about 500 bricks will cost construction firms about 32 cents per brick — that’s more than 7x the cost of an automated bricklayer.

    SAM isn’t able to work independently, however. A builder still has to feed the bricks onto its conveyor belt, which will then be picked up by SAM’s robotic arm, slathered with mortar, and placed on the wall. From there, another bricklayer has to follow up SAM’s work by cleaning up excess mortar.

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