Robots have been developed that are able to perform numerous extraordinary tasks, ranging from the unpalatable to the dangerous, but Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) prefers to take a more utilitarian direction with its creations, and its latest bot, HRP-5P, is no exception.
The robot has been developed to install plasterboard and has been demonstrated lifting sheets of drywall (and plywood), carrying them to the correct location and then affixing them using a cordless screwdriver. It was created as a direct response to Japan’s labour shortage, which has been brought about by declining birthrates and an ageing population.
Standing slightly taller than the average Japanese man at 5’10” and tipping the scales at a hefty 220lbs, HRP-5P boasts improved intelligence and is equipped with both object recognition technology and environment measurement capabilities which, with continued research and development, should see it able to construct entire buildings.
The robot’s makers have also stated that it could be applied to other building projects, such as the construction of large vehicles, so in time HRP-5P could become invaluable in Japan’s shipyards and aircraft factories, as well as its building sites.
The use of robots in a construction setting could be viewed as both a blessing and a curse for human beings. On one hand, there would be fewer accidents and any that did take place wouldn’t endanger the lives of human contractors, but on the other a vast number of blue-collar workers make their money in the building business, and they could be consigned to the unemployment line in short order, were HRP-5P to go into mass production.