FBR assembles next-gen bricklaying robot capable of building house structure in just one day

FBR assembles next-gen bricklaying robot capable of building house structure in just one day

FBR's latest iteration of the Hadrian X reaches mechanical completion (via FBR).

The inventors of an automated house structure building robot have hit a new milestone, with FBR (ASX: FBR) today announcing the mechanical assembly of its next-generation Hadrian X robot has been completed.

This latest iteration is able to lay at speeds of up to 500 building blocks per hour - equating to up to approximately 120sqm per hour.

These speeds are more than twice as fast as what a former version of the robot was able to achieve, with the 2020 design able to hit laying rates of more than 200 blocks per hour.

Perth-based FBR, formerly known as Fastbrick Robotics, claims the newest version of the Hadrian X may be able to complete both the internal and external walls of a standard double brick house in just one day.

The next-gen robot has also been fitted out with a ‘shuttle block delivery system’, designed to lay any existing commercially available blocks, as well as the ability to lay larger blocks weighing up to 45kg which are yet to hit the market.

FBR claims this delivery system is designed to be adaptable to handle other products such as roof tiles, subject to further future development, which indicates the company is considering expanding the utility of the Hadrian X beyond simply building walls. According to non-executive chairman Richard Grellman the new robot will "extend FBR’s lead at the forefront of construction robotics globally".

The Hadrian X also has a longer ‘arm’ than its predecessor - coming in at 32 metres when fully extended - providing further reach than before and enabling the construction of walls three storeys high from the roadside as well as the ability to lay blocks within 50mm of existing walls.

The machine’s ‘saw module’ has also been updated, allowing the Hadrian X to make height, mitre and gable cuts to blocks.

“The next-generation Hadrian X is designed with distributed control architecture, leading to a highly reliable system which allows for individual modules to be customised, repaired and swapped efficiently,” FBR said.

“Most of the ancillary equipment of the Hadrian X is self-contained, greatly improving deployment efficiency.”

FBR says commissioning activities for the new robot are ongoing, with expected completion by the end of the first quarter of calendar 2023.

“Following completion of commissioning activities, the Hadrian X will be calibrated and tested before being utilised for demonstration activities to potential Wall-as-a-Service (WaaS) partners domestically and internationally,” says FBR.

Today’s news is the first major announcement from FBR since March when the group told investors it had laid the foundations for a potential global roll-out in partnership with Germany’s Liebherr-Mischtechnik GmbH.

The manufacturer and supplier of concrete mixing, batching and pumping systems entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with FBR, aiming to cooperate on industrialising and commercialising the next generation Hadrian X automated bricklaying robot for the global construction market.

That MoU replaced two joint venture deals with Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) and Brickworks (ASX: BKW) which fell through in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

The loss-making company, which generated around $800,000 in revenue last financial year, has been relying on investor patience as it continues to revamp and improve its bricklaying technology.

In the months since the MoU was signed, FBR has raised nearly $26 million, including a fully underwritten $20 million institutional placement closed in October, with some of the funds used to finish manufacturing its latest robot which was 70 per cent complete at the time. 

Some money was also put aside to fund the expansion of its WaaS program, whereby it hopes to deploy this latest machine to overseas markets for demonstrations, and establish offshore WaaS entities.

FBR also secured further capital via a $1.9 million strategic placement to Australia's largest brick producer Brickworks in July, and a $4 million placement to institutional and sophisticated investors in June. Prior to these raises, the company entered into a revolving $4 million R&D tax loan facility with FC Capital, which is in place until 31 December 2024.

Other more recent operational highlights include the completion of a structure with the Hadrian X in the Western Australian suburb of Wellard using Wienerberger Porotherm clay blocks - the first time the materials have ever been laid by a robot in the undertaking of commercial, real-world work.

That followed on from an outdoor pilot test undertaken in November 2021 - also in Wellard - which sought to demonstrate the robot's ability to address the European clay-block low-rise housing market. According to FBR, the company could tap into a market with the potential for 700,000 new homes per year with the Hadrian X.

Late last year the company entered a deal to supply its Wall as a Service (WaaS) technology to GP Vivienda in Mexico for up to 5,000 homes, which was soon followed by the commencement of its largest project to date to build the walls of 16 townhouses for prominent Western Australian builder Inspired Homes in Willagee, Perth.

FBR non-executive chairman Richard Grellman updated investors on the progress of the Willagee project in the company's annual report, released in October.

"We commenced our most complex project to date in FY22, a 16-townhouse project in the Perth suburb of Willagee, and work has now commenced on the fifth and final home of the Company’s Wellard portfolio, with the first home already being sold shortly after the close of FY22," Grellman said.

Shares in FBR are down 2.56 per cent to $0.038 per share at 10.55am AEDT.

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