An automatic bricklaying machine developed in Yorkshire is constructing the first home in the UK to be built by a robot.
Pocklington-based Construction Automation started work on the three-bedroom home in Everingham in the East Riding of Yorkshire this week.
Construction Automation’s Automatic Brick Laying Robot (ABLR), which has been four years in the development, will lay all the bricks, blocks, and mortar. Its manufacturer claims it is also the first machine of its type ever created that can build around corners – meaning it can construct an entire house without stopping.
The robot means that only two people are required to work on each house that it builds – a labourer to load bricks and mortar into the machine and a skilled person to install tie bars, damp courses and lintels and to do the pointing.
The robot’s control system sends out alerts when these important jobs need doing, and then takes a photograph of the completed task to form a complete digital record of the key quality criteria.
The ABLR sits on a nine-metre high vertical lift frame, which also removes the need for scaffolding and for people to work at height.
Construction Automation was formed in May 2016 by entrepreneurs David Longbottom and Stuart Parkes.
Longbottom said said: “The house will contain around 10,000 bricks and will take the ABLR about two weeks to build.
“It is the first house in the UK to be built by a robot, and possibly the first in the world.
“The ABLR comprises of the robot and a sophisticated software control system that reads digitised versions of architect’s plans.
“This instructs the robot exactly where to lay the blocks, bricks and mortar.
“It is controlled from a tablet and all the data about a specific build can be accessed remotely, making it very easy to assess progress on site at any time.”
Parkes said the advantages of the ABLR include increased productivity, better quality houses, and improved health and safety on site.
He said: “Although bricks are meant to be a standard size there is quite a lot of variation in them.
“So, we use sensors to measure each individual brick and then to line it up, so it is precisely central on the wall. The sensors also align the edge of each brick to produce a perfect finish.
“That way, the ABLR builds quickly and to a consistently high standard.”
“With the in-built vertical lift, the machine can build easily to the height of a standard two-storey house, so it is much safer than building in the traditional way.”
Construction Automation has already secured patent in the USA on the technology, and a European and UK patent is expected to follow shortly.
Once the ABLR had completed this house and a number of other test properties, the company will be ready to go into full production.
“Our goal is to automate housebuilding as far as we can,” Longbottom said.
“By doing this, we can increase productivity for the industry, improve health and safety, and guarantee quality.”