Robot bricklayers to descend on Brexit Britain as developers grapple with skills shortage

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Armies of robot bricklayers could become a common sight in Brexit Britain as construction firms turn to machines to make up for the loss of skilled labour from mainland Europe.

The UK’s construction sector is more receptive than any other in the world to the use of robots and drones on building sites, according to new research from Altus.

A survey of over 400 major property developers carried out by the group showed that 47% of UK firms predict that construction site robots will bring disruptive change, compared with just 34% of companies globally.

British developers were also more likely to see the potential for using drones on construction sites, with 41% predicting major disruptive change, compared with 28% globally.

Altus Group director Ian Wimpenny said: “With EU net migration having fallen to its lowest level since 2012, and record employment, contractors are already struggling to fill vacancies and close skills gaps, so it’s unsurprising that UK developers are more open to disruptive technologies to keep Britain building post Brexit.”

Robots are already common in car manufacturing, and trials of robotic bricklayers on building sites are already underway.

The robots’ manufacturers claim they can lay 3,000 bricks a day, compared with the typical 300-600 bricks for a human bricklayer.

Drones, meanwhile, are used for surveying, inspections and progress monitoring.

Companies such as New York-based Construction Robotics and Australia’s Fastbrick are among the market leaders in new construction technology.

JCB, Volvo and Caterpillar are also developing autonomous construction vehicles.

The Altus research also showed that 65% of developers globally are facing challenges with labour shortages, which are exacerbated by government policy and booming demand.

Altus Group’s Real Estate Development Trends Report surveyed over 400 major property developers, each with more than £200 million under development.

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