Robotic technology company FBR (ASX: FBR) has achieved a major milestone in its ongoing bid to take homebuilding fully automatic.
FBR said its flagship construction robot, the Hadrian X, had recorded a new peak laying rate of over 200 blocks per hour – an early indication that its homebuilding robot can not only construct buildings to a professional standard, but also, that it can build homes quickly enough to make its robot-powered market idea commercially viable.
The threshold at which FBR thinks its robot becomes commercially competitive is around 200 blocks per hour for the duration of a full house build – a rate which FBR has been gradually increasing as it progresses development of Hadrian X and streamlines its operations.
“We’ve achieved so many amazing technical milestones over the last two years, but this is the first time that we have been able to prove the real commercial case of the Hadrian X in practice,” said FBR’s managing director and chief executive officer Mike Pivac.
FBR said its record laying rate represented a “major milestone in the company’s commercialisation journey” following several prototypes and multiple tweaks throughout development.
According to FBR, the Hadrian X H02 – the follow-up to the original Hadrian X H01 – can lay bricks 300% faster than its predecessor which makes Hadrian X highly compelling when measured against traditional manual bricklaying in most markets around the world.
Moreover, development is being conducted concurrently as part of two slightly different designs. Over the coming months, FBR intends to develop both Hadrian X H01 and H02 in parallel.
According to the company, H01 is currently undergoing “substantive upgrades of both software and componentry” which FBR expects to deliver an even greater speed increase for H01 over and above that achieved by H02.
With a straightforward bricklaying robot developed and on the cusp of being fully commercialised, FBR said it plans to continue development by focusing on increasing lay speed and widening the scope for Hadrian X to build highly complex building designs for overseas markets and customers.
“When you consider that manual brick and block laying costs globally vary anywhere from $10 per square metre to $100 per square metre, we are already cost-competitive across a broad range of the market at 200 blocks per hour,” said Mr Pivac.
“However, we are continuing to increase the lay speed and improve the Hadrian X and accordingly our cost of laying will continue to decrease while the market for the machines will grow significantly,” he added.
In a further attempt to raise its chances of commercial success, FBR embarked on a significant cost-cutting program in recent months.
The company said it is currently close to completing a “cost rationalisation program” that has helped the company reduce its net cash burn to less than $1 million per month.
According to financial statements, FBR’s gross cash spend for May 2020 was $750,000 while net cash spend was approximately $600,000.
At the end of last month, FBR reported it had $5 million in cash reserves and was expecting to receive “at least an additional $4 million” in September 2020 courtesy of its research and development tax cash refund in the current financial year.
“FBR is assessing its options for international expansion, having received significant inbound interest from the US, Europe and Asia, and will provide a further update in the coming months as the world deals with the COVID-19 crisis,” the company said.