Caterpillar Inc, the world’s largest maker of construction machinery, has announced that it will invest in Hadrian, a brick-laying robot developed back in 2015 by an Australian aeronautic engineer.
The deal sees Caterpillar lend its weight to developing the technology, which can now lay 1,000 bricks an hour.
The US company will buy $2m of Fastbrick Robotics shares over the next year with the option to make a further $8m investment later, subject to the approval of Fastbrick’s shareholders. This money will be spent on further research into the technology, the development of a commercial product, together with sales and servicing. Â
The two companies will also form a "strategic alliance board" to oversee the development of the system.
Hadrian was invented by Mike Pivac, who developed the idea in 2005 during a shortage of bricklayers in Perth, Western Australia. He then spent 10 years developing a 28ft-long prototype.
The Fastbrick system (Fastbrick)
Commenting on Caterpillar’s investment, Pivac said, "Fastbrick Robotics is delighted to sign a memorandum of understanding with Caterpillar and welcomes the company as a new shareholder.
"Caterpillar is a globally recognised industry leader, and we look forward to collaborating with the company and uniting our teams to share ideas, pursue innovation and explore opportunities to commercialise our unique technology."
The latest iteration of the technology is Hadrian X. This can lay 1,000 bricks an hour. The 98ft arm, which is controlled by a CAD program, is able to cut and lay bricks in a precise pattern, and to inject mortar to cement them in place using in inbuilt nozzle. The boom auto-corrects 1,000 times a second to ensure that it is putting the bricks where they are meant to go.
Fastbrick’s promotional video of the system in action can be seen here.
The company’s share price rose 24% after the tie-in with Caterpillar was announced. The initial $2m purchase was made at 10 cents a share; if the $8m placement goes ahead, it will be at 20 cents a share.
Top image: Hadrian in action (GCR)