Meet SAM, Brick Laying Robot That Does The Work Of 6 Humans

Tyler Durden's picture

In the latest installment of our "Dear Bernie" series, posts intended to inform the Vermont Senator about the unintended, negative consequences of minimum wage hikes, we present SAM (Semi-Automated Mason), a brick laying robot designed and engineered by Construction Robotics out of New York.  While SAM can do the work of 6 unionized masons each day, he never requires a break, benefits or a paycheck.

Here's a look at SAM in action:


Each SAM can be rented at a monthly cost of ~$3,300 according to The SunWith an average efficiency of 3,000 bricks per day, that breaks down to about 4.5 cents per brick.  Meanwhile, using using Bernie's preferred $15 per hour minimum wage rate, plus benefits, and a daily efficiency of about 500 bricks brings the human labor cost equivalent to roughly 32 cents per brick, or a little over 7x.

Of course, SAM can't completely eliminate the need for masons on work sites just yet, as human assistance is still needed to load bricks and mortar into the system and to clean up excess mortar from joints after bricks have been laid.  That said, Construction Robotics estimates that overall labor costs for bricklaying projects can be reduced by at least 50%.




And while Bernie is unlikely to rent a SAM to construct his next $575,000 lake house, we hear that someone may be taking bids for an impenetrable, yet "aesthetically pleasing", 30-foot border wall that will span nearly 2,000 miles. 

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----_-'s picture
----_- (not verified) Mar 28, 2017 3:31 AM

yeah and then a part break down and you have to pay x times amount of money to replace that one part and after 2 months another part breaks down and you have to pay for replacement another x amount of money


i know that scam system from mercedes benz

though i did a good investment with my money to buy a car i can brag about. opposit - people laughed at me for bying stupid expensive new car.

but here comes the point - most of the mercedes benz is useless plastic and it stinks especially in summer

they now make them in china and assemble it in gypsy romania so they can write "made in EU".

if a part breaks down you cant repair it on our own and you have to pay big money for shitty replacement parts


if you buy mercedes benz - you buy plastic made in china and assembled in romania

congrats you are a cow now someone is milking your for your money muuuuuuuuuuuu


the robot up there makes the work of 6 people and will cost you 6 times more than 6x6 people + you have to store that crap somewhere + its outdated by tomorrow

jaap's picture

in the 2D word it already is there for years (brick laying for streets):

TwelveOhOne's picture

Does this automated mason come with a secret handshake?

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Can it lay tile?  Does it run on rice and beer?  Can it do the retaining wall today, and clean up the brances I cut down tomorrow?

N2OJoe's picture

But this robot will cause a collapse in lunchtime liquor sales at local bars. Must be banned.

Joe Sichs Pach's picture

SAM meet your nemesis MARIO


shovelhead's picture

Ever hear an Italian Brickie swear when he smashes a finger or thumb?

It's magnificent in 2 or 3 languages.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

I hear they're calling in the Watson team to program an Italian swearing module so the robot curses when contextually appropriate.

FireBrander's picture


They can build a robot to perfectly lay the bricks, but they need a human to put bricks on the conveyor to feed the machine?

Why not have a robot arm pick the bricks off a pallet that follows along with the laying machine?

Can it lay bricks in a curved wall fashion? what about uneven ground?

The demo is a straight wall on level ground; that's not typical.

BrownCoat's picture

@ FireBrander,

Good insight - the machine has limited applications. Still, it should reduce the wear and tear on human bricklayers. It will make their job easier, which is what productivity improvement is all about.

Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) BrownCoat Mar 28, 2017 9:58 AM

Use it to build 'THE WALL'... then, put up another one around DC, NY, & SF

Shocker's picture

Nothing like automating Humans right out of work. Probably not the best idea

Layoff List:


Logan 5's picture
Logan 5 (not verified) Shocker Mar 28, 2017 10:22 AM

The end result of that is "carousel" at age 30

Twee Surgeon's picture

You could replace the Bricks and Mortar with Toast and Tuna salad, a couple of Beer kegs on each end and 2 hotties in Bikinis to take the cash.

Now yer in Business.....

espirit's picture

Poor SAM. His brakes must have failed on the 10th level.

Never knew the ground that hit him...

Steaming_Wookie_Doo's picture

Yep, limited. Though I wonder how far from the future of more "interesting" construction robotics applications we are. See anime "Patlabor" or even the robotic assist machines in "Aliens". Patlabor goes into OS bugs that *really* cause problems.

general ambivalent's picture

That was never the point. They want deskilled workers so they are easier to enslave. And the changes are already happening without this automation, many construction workers are finding themselves working alongside a bunch of unskilled and inexperienced people as the bosses try to break the last unions.

Construction workers are quickly becoming assembly workers and gophers because of all these prefab systems which require only a few knowledgeable people to say, 'this goes here.' These robots are the next step, lots of gophers and temp workers to set up the machinery and keep the robot fed.

HenryHall's picture

One step at a time. Those things are two to five years away.

bloostar's picture

And a further robot to load the storage section for those bricks too. Also need someone to set up the the rails for each level it goes up. You may end up needing 6 robots AND 6 operators for the job to replace the 6 brickies.. plus 6 technicians.. fantastic solution. Really cost effective.

Who is responsible when the wall invariably falls down and crushes your pet dog as you walk past?

AGuy's picture

"Why not have a robot arm pick the bricks off a pallet that follows along with the laying machine?"

That would require another robotic arm. Since this is the first generation model, I am sure they opted to keep it simple, and use what they learn into the next model

"Can it lay bricks in a curved wall fashion? what about uneven ground? The demo is a straight wall on level ground; that's not typical."

Probably not curved yet, but I don't think that will be a problem in the future. I am sure it can work on on even ground as the demo that it can precisely place bricks when the machine is under movement.

I think it probably will have trouble building above 6 to 7 feet as the reach is limited. Perhaps it can operate on scaffold if they can get lifted and the scaffold is strong enough. I would probably would have designed it so it can be raised and lowered from the ground level up to a couple of stories.

I think Windows and opening are probably going to be an issue.

ImGumbydmmt's picture

I had the same first observation, but just wait ten years.

This is a good first step.

I see lots of robotic application for the laser stabilization system,

Wit till they can run a robotic excavator.


Robotic repair technician may be a good career one day.

Related topic, I'm an architect, look what the latest software can do.


We've been using this for two years. The productivety improvments literally helped pay off my house.


Tarzan's picture

I don't buy into the hype of robots taking over the world, reading our minds, being "smarter".

If they can't keep our freaking cloud based servers running, they suck balls, with constant slow periods if not completely going down nearly every freaking day, how the hell will they rule us with computers?

But I do see the labor force shrinking dramatically.  10 years ago I supervised 19 people in the engraving department.  We had people color correcting and toning  all the images, That's now all done by a script.  We had camera men, and plate burners, which have been replaced with a laser, and straight to plate technology.  It's all changed in the last decade.  That department now has two people running it, and they run 7 nights a week.

Same for our commercial print department and digital presses, I could go on and on...

But this stupid scar mongering that AI is going to kill us all is complete bunk!  The faster computers get, it seems, the slower they operate, with all the excess crap running in the background, mostly spying on us..

When the fires come, we'll see how AI fares!

Oldwood's picture

It doesn't have to work well, only well enough to believe. Humans crave the dependency of convenience, of a laborless world of low personal expectations and responsibility. 

"The machine did it!"

People are paid to produce, but more importantly take responsibility for production but we find ourselves depending on and ultimately serving machines that most have no idea what actually makes them work. 

Joe Mama 3's picture

A real "mason" once told me, son, this shit ain't made to work, it's just made to sell !!!!!!!!!   "union bricklayer"  Bwaaaaaahaaaaa, not everyone lives in jew nork, jerkoff writer !!!!!!!!!!!!   Come to houston and look for the bricklayer local, if there is one, i'm sure it's blowin and going balls to da wall !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

divingengineer's picture

This looks like a good thing to me.
It eliminates jobs, but does the grunt work so the human masons can concentrate on details. Will it make houses cheaper? I doubt it, just more profit to the builder, that's my main gripe so far with robots, they don't seem to lower prices as advertised, just eliminate jobs.
Deflationary, yes.
But how many 20-somethings do you see that look like brick mason material?

tmosley's picture

>They don't lower prices

>But they are deflationary

Quite a feat.

Milton Keynes's picture

They lower demand...  Prices are oftentimes upwardly sticky but demand slows.


until some weak sister breaks the line, you can have market failure.



mkkby's picture

Where can I rent one of these?  I'd love a brick sided house, but it's too expensive because of all the labor.

silvercity's picture

But how many 20-somethings do you see that look like brick mason material? Millions. But none of them are Americans.

chiaroscuro's picture

I suspect that in the long run human labor will become cheaper than robot labor once enough people lose their jobs and the social safety nets become so overwhelmed they can't even pretend to function anymore. Then human labor will be far cheaper and more readily available than it is now as humans will be abundant, desperate and capable of surviving on cheap, renewable energy (i.e. food) that can be grown with far less input than it takes to manufacture robotic components and fuel. So I imagine the robots will reduce the quality of life and working conditions for all but a wealthy few. Yet human labor will still be in demand once the price comes down. 


FireBrander's picture

Most of the world can't feed itself because of poor soil...well, you no longer need soil to grow food...water and sunshine is all you need...indoor hydroponic farming is making huge can grow indoors, all year long with far less water, fertilzer, no weed's the future.

chiaroscuro's picture

Good point. I see there will be a presentation on aquaponics at the Marfa symposium (similar to hydroponics but with fish).

Slomotrainwreck's picture

It's no more a "robot" than a conveyor. It's a pre-progrqammed machine.  Please don't call it he. Of course,  machines needs slaves to do the grunt work.

TwelveOhOne's picture

Huh.  So, did they get to Xythras?  Let's check the user page: looks like it!

Here's what I did:

1. Click on this user's name ("TrollandDump").

2. Replaced the ending of the URL with "xythras" (usernames are lowercase when in URL form).

3. Saw an "Access denied" error (which recalled the ending to the movie "Lawnmower Man").

4. Added some random characters to the end of the username to see if it always gives "Access denied" for non-existent users, and instead got a "Page not found" error.

Thus, I can confirm that the user Xythras has been banned.

Good work everyone, now here's another to report to!  One with an even more annoying, distracting animated avatar.

bob_bichen's picture
bob_bichen (not verified) TrollandDump Mar 28, 2017 4:12 PM

dailywesterner,com  = SPAM - VIRUS - TROJANS !!


Chronic spammer XYTHRAS has "reincarnated" in a Truth-in-Advertising new handle as "TrollAndDump."


Take a minute and write to and ask that this SICK, SPAMMING FREAK SHOW of a TOXIC DUMPSTER FIRE who suffers from a serious case of SPAMMING COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOR and request that  "TrollAndDump" and "XYTHRAS" be permanently banned for chronic spamming.

Urban Redneck's picture

It's not a mason if it can only work with WHOLE bricks, STRAIGHT lines, and MONOLYTHIC patterns.

Moreover, brick is for residential and low end commercial work, because it isn't suitable for anything taller than low rise, and it doesn't do well with seismic activity.  

Reinforced and fully grouted block walls can be built much higher and stronger.

And if you want to graduating to 21st century construction in the old world, ceramic bricks are used underneath the facade of modern buildings for their insulating value.


Mr. Universe's picture

It looks like they would only need one Mason to oversee things, the rest would be apprentices and hod carriers. The crap jobs is how they learn to become master masons. Robots mean fewer master masons.

Milton Keynes's picture

It's a classic disruptive innovation.


The skilled masons work corners set up the lines, clean and strike, but the robot does the grunt work.

SilverRoofer's picture

Bend and Scoop that's what the Mexicans do

silvercity's picture

Very impressive. In the old days kids could spend hours watching men work. I don't think kids do that very much anymore.

delacroix's picture

Nice to know, I'm not the only geek.

jerseychris's picture

Only the ones that do the jobs Americans won't do:  murder, rape and drug trafficking.

ACP's picture

Just waiting for SAACs - semi-automated actors, to make movies that won't require a dipshit named Clooney to charge $25 mil for a lame ass performance on the screen.

ersatz007's picture

"negative consequences of minimum wage hikes"

This article is fucking stupid. If the author honestly believes that minimum wage hikes are what is causing this then he or she has been living under a rock. This technology has been in development long before min wage hikes were in play.