Construction workers might soon spend more time building and less time preparing. HP has unveiled a SitePrint robot that autonomously prints layouts on construction site floors. With the help of a remote control tablet and cloud tools, the machine can outline walls, doors and other elements with little intervention — it can avoid unexpected obstacles, including steep drops. The company claims the bot can finish a layout in a "fraction" of the time humans require, although this will vary by the complexity of the project.
The robot includes two batteries that can each handle up to four hours of printing. It can print on surfaces like concrete, plywood and terrazzo, even if they're rough. You can also choose inks that last days or months to suit the timeline for a given job.
HP is making the SitePrint robot available to North American companies this month as part of an early access program. The finished automaton and a full-scale launch are due sometime in 2023. The hardware has already been tested with projects ranging from airports to hospitals.
There's clearly a concern SitePrint might automate people out of jobs. The robot only requires one operator versus the two or three people typically needed for manual layouts. However, its timing might be particularly apt. As in many other fields, the construction industry is grappling with labor shortages. Robots like SitePrint could help builders make the most of limited staff, or take on more ambitious tasks without hiring larger crews.