ALEKYA Builds With Bricks And Mortar

Construction is often a labor-intensive task, particularly in the developing world where access to electricity and machinery can be limited. As always, robots promise to help ease the burden. [Nishant Agarwal] is working on just such a project, known as ALEKYA.

The aim of ALKEYA is to make construction easier and more automated, with the help of robotics. We’ve seen large-scale concrete printers before, but ALEKYA takes a different tack. With a focus on making use of local materials, it combines two gantries on a single frame. One lays down a bead of mortar, before the other swoops in to drop bricks into position. This is followed by another layer of mortar, and the build continues.

By using this manner of construction, progress can be much more rapid compared to more traditional 3D printing techniques which must build up height layer by layer. Currently operating on a small scale, the next step for the project is the construction of a 20×20 foot version for creating full-sized buildings.

We think there’s definite promise in this hybrid approach, and can’t wait to see what comes next! Video after the break.

29 thoughts on “ALEKYA Builds With Bricks And Mortar

    1. There’s a kids toy company here in Germany that makes exquisite domino/blocks out of plywood with melamine (maybe?) facing. I played with some at a toy fair, and they were fantastic. Sharp, square edges make a huge difference in how high you can build.

      So much so, that it was definitely the pricetag that kept me from building any higher…ouch, they were expensive.

  1. Yet another rich kid seeing the world through rosy glasses. There’s pleny of cheap manual labourers, way cheaper than robotic solution. You want to know why some countries are so messed up? Watch “Empire of Dust” movie from 2011, it’s about China doing construction projects in Africa – in short: it’s all so tiresome.

  2. Really, really sad. You have a country full of poor people and you want to give a job to a f*cking robot? Are you people serious?

    Why not train a few people in each city how to build these things and then pay them wages so they can live.

    Greed. That is what this is for.

    1. The same thing is happening worldwide. There’s a projection stating that over the next 10 years, approximately 36 million people in the United States will lose their job to automation. For the most blatant examples, look at the Detroit auto makers and even more simply, McDonald’s self order/pay kiosks.

    2. Even though you are right regarding third world countries, a robot would be a good thing in first world countries where there is a lack of skilled workers for these kinds of tasks. I can only speak for the situation in Germany, but we have such a demand that you need to place an order for construction work a year ahead. And of course – pay prices that are ridiculous.

          1. i cannot agree with that. Try finding a job as a manual worker – these days it is really difficult. Germany has an excellent social + health care service — but manual jobs are really difficutlt to get because of farming such jobs to cheap labour countries. Skilled people are needed.

    1. Didn’t they do something like this with the construction of Hoover Dam? Just sliding in slots of concrete in flat layers? Maybe the ‘squirt’ can be extruded through a shaper to make it flat and pressed against the previous layer?

  3. You think people in third world countries live in McMansions?

    I developed a friendship years ago with a man who immigrated to my city. When his wife and kids finally arrived after a couple of years, we had them over for dinner. In the old country, they lived two families in a two room apartment. When his wife saw my wife’s bathroom, she said in broken English, “If I had this house, i’d live in here.” The bathroom was larger and nicer than the room she and her kids had lived in for the past decade.

    We westerners are very spoiled.

  4. Unbelievivible I lay bricks and blocks for a living and I noticed that machine didnt put a single head joint in not a single wall tie give a man a fish feed him for a day teach a man to fish feed him for life.

  5. Thank you for the feature.
    I want to address a few issues :

    I am from India myself and have worked as an architect and been to many of these construction sites. The conditions that the construction workers work in are very adverse, with no safety gears (not even a helmet), and most of the time without any mechanical equipment. The average salary of a worker on site for a day’s work is 5-7 dollars. Its disheartening to see them work that way. Majority of them are illiterate and some even make their little kids work on site. I’d rather see a robot working with a few fairly paid, educated and well managed workers rather than the latter.

    As far the project is concerned. This is in no way a finished product. I built this project prototype just to demonstrate a proof of concept that it is very well possible to build with bricks and mortar using a robot. I am well aware of the project’s limitations and necessary bits it needs to incorporate. Due to the scale of the prototype, incorporating some stuff on the bot has been a challenge, for eg. the application of mortar on the vertical surfaces. I have addressed most of these issues in the project page and have even come up with solutions to some of them that I’l be a part of the next version.

    The only reason I did not build a 1:1 scale prototype was due to the lack of funds, time and volunteers. Hence I’ve entered the Hackaday prize so that I can get the resources to develop this further for a more practical and real world application. I am pretty sure I can get there with some help from the community (Kindly let me know if you are interested). I have kept the project open source so that most people can benefit from it all around the world.

    1. This is the kind of attitude I want to see on Hackaday, not all the naysayers complaining about the issue they spotted. Few projects start perfectly formed, it takes time and testing to develop the best solution. I know I would be a lot richer if my house could be built cheaply by robots instead of people and less people would be put in harms way too.

      Good work Nishant

    2. my questions about construction robots are always the same, does the “house” move from the robot to the site or does the robot move from site to site? How much site preparation is needed to do so? Those are more than often going to be your biggest limiting factors as Cartesian robots and pick and place as well as extrusion are well flushed out concepts by now.

      I get that your drive is to make sure that the work is done safely and no little children are used in construction but have you given thought to the unintended consequences of removing those jobs from the labor pool? If said workers are illiterate then what other possible sources of income could they get? and wouldn’t it be more disheartening to see those people starving and begging for food?

      The best of intentions still have unintended consequences and that is how we have the world we live in today. Someone makes a tool that is meant to make someone else’s life easier and a third party uses it to make a fourth person’s life horrible. Everyone always asks “can we” but no one asks “should we”

      Computers, cars, guns, robots, etc etc.

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