Japan's national institute of Advanced Industrial Science And Technology (AIST) has developed HRP-5P, a prototype humanoid construction robot that aims at replacing heavy-duty human labour.
ASIT created the robot as a response to the country's labour shortage due to its ageing population and declining birth rate. The robot can autonomously carry out various building tasks, such as picking up a plasterboard and screwing it onto the wall.
HRP-5P comes with a height of 182 cm, weight of 101 kg, and with 2 degrees of freedom of the neck, 3 degrees of freedom of the waist, 8 degrees of each arm, 6 degrees of each leg and 2 degrees of each hand, totaling 37 degrees of freedom – a maximum frequency in the HRP series.
AIST has created the robot with improved intelligence, equipping it with object recognition technology and environment measurement abilities. Its robust body is aimed at practical application in the construction of buildings and large-sized structures such as aircrafts and ships, while it allows it to handle big-scale objects such as gypsum boards (1820 × 910 × 10 mm, about 11 kg) and plywood panels (1800 × 900 × 12 mm, about 13 kg) with both arms.
This development makes a couple of predictions come true, which has been years in the making. According to a 2013 Oxford University study that quantifies the likelihood of job automation, it actually places the extremely specific job of 'Drywall Installer' at a 79% chance of being replaced by robots. The construction industry has long been wary of outsourcing labour to robots, and there are already quite a few (non-humanoid) robots that can carry out tasks like bricklaying, carpentry, and tile-setting.
The second prediction is one that's been right in front of our faces all along: all of these stock photos of robot contractors installing drywall, which exist for some reason. Life really does imitate art.