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This Startup Wants to Fix the Housing Market - with Robots

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In a state where housing is expensive to build, to rent, or to buy — and not especially energy efficient — can a big blue robot make a difference?

The Boston Globe reports on Reframe Systems, one of the companies "trying robots to make construction more efficient" — in this case, "working alongside humans in an assembly line to build small houses in a factory."[Its cofounders] learned to get robots and humans to work together while at Amazon, which has built more than 750,000 bots in Massachusetts and deployed them to distribution centers around the world. Advising the company are Amy Villeneuve, former chief operating officer of that Amazon division, and Charly Mwangi, a veteran of the carmakers Nissan, Tesla, and Rivian...

Standing at one end of Reframe's factory, [cofounder Aaron] Small explained that the company's ambition is to build net-zero houses — houses that produce as much energy as they use — "twice as fast as traditional methods, twice as cheap, and with 10 times lower carbon" emissions. That means using large screws called helical piles to fix the house to the site, instead of a concrete foundation. (Concrete production generates large amounts of carbon dioxide.) The company buys recycled cellulose insulation to fill the walls. Solar panels go on the roof and triple-paned windows in the walls...

Reframe's "microfactory" can produce between 30 and 50 homes a year, [cofunder Vikas] Enti said. Eventually, the company aims to set up larger factories around the country, all within an hour's drive of big cities.

After a home is trucked to its final destination, "Electrical wires and plumbing are installed in both floors and walls as they're built," according to the article.

"Employees toting iPads can refer to digital construction drawings and get step-by-step instructions about tasks from cutting lumber to connecting pipes." One of the co-founders says, "We like to compare it to Lego instructions."






Edited by Alan Ambrose
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2 hours ago, SteamyTea said:

Robots are a very misused term.

I think most bricks are made with them.

And steel, glass, plastic...


Yes, I think the article is generally saying that they're wanting to modernise house production - but really they're just talking about pre-fab houses like the ones you can already get from a good few producers across Scandinavia and the rest of northern Europe.


I love the terminology: 'learned to get humans and robots working together" as if the robots are social beings that need encouragement, or maybe they just needed protection from jealous humans?


The other bit is: " After a home is trucked to its final destination, "Electrical wires and plumbing are installed in both floors and walls as they're built," according to the article." As if those doing it already haven't thought about that and actually constructed the panels with the services already in there.


Mind you, by the way they're talking, they'll be getting billions in investment.

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Well IMHO the Americans do tend to do stuff big and well if they do it at all - which is why they have a lot of the West’s tech giants.


>>> 'learned to get humans and robots working together’


Possibly marketing BS, but there is a modern trend to make industrial robots at least ‘aware’ of how soft and squishy humans are. Imagine self driving cars that ignored this.

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I’m a robot .

I build a house all day long . I don’t complain . I don’t get paid . I just continue endlessly as though I have no emotion attached to the task .


I’m a robot 

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