Across the US, cities are independently passing measures to implement a $15 minimum wage - or mandating higher wages with an eye toward one day achieving that goal. But low-wage workers who are celebrating their fatter paychecks should enjoy the feeling while it lasts...because the more expensive workers become, the faster employers will work to replace those human workers with robots who can do the same job for a fraction of the cost.
Already, the first burger restaurant run entirely by a robot has opened in San Francisco. But progress in robotics hasn't been confined to the food service industry. Last year, we introduced SAM (Semi-Automated Mason), a bricklaying robot that can do the work of 6 unionized masons every single day, without a break, benefits or a paycheck. And as it turns out, SAM already has some competition. Enter Fastbrick Robotics' Hadrian X, a brick-laying robot that will soon be capable of constructing whole homes by itself. According to the company's website, Hadrian is capable of constructing the walls of a home in a single day.
To be sure, the Hadrian is still being tested. FBR anticipates that the bricklaying robot will have constructed its first home, completely from scratch, by the end of 2018. But Hadrian's home-building prowess is already on display in a video released by the company.
Unlike human workers, Hadrian can be mounted to a truck, crane or boat to make transportation easier. It also relies on stabilization technology that allows it to work through wind and other environmental factors that might stymie human workers. But perhaps most impressively, Hadrian can take a design from an engineer's CAD software and build it - all without the help of human workers.
Indeed, Hadrian could start building homes quickly and cheaply in the very near future, replacing whole teams of human workers, since it's designed to work alone. And unfortunately for the bricklayers that Hadrian could displace, there are no shoppers looking for assistance on a construction site, or other "customer-facing" construction site roles to which they can seamlessly transition.