SAM: One Robot, a Dozen Engineers, and the Race To Revolutionize the Way We Build

Avid Reader. Jan. 2020. 288p. illus. ISBN 9781501140594. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781501140617. TECH
Waldman’s (Rust) latest, short for Semi Automated Mason, presents a compelling, well-paced, and engaging account of the innovations developed by the startup Construction Robotics. The narrative hinges on the motivations for developing an automated way to lay bricks and bring Silicon Valley-like “disruption” and “revolution” to the way builders work. Readers will come to appreciate how challenging the application of automation to construction is; construction sites are chaotic and do not lend themselves well to automation of the type that the group behind Construction Robotics is attempting. Each chapter does double duty introducing a problem facing the team while also personalizing the challenge faced by an individual engineer, architect, businessperson, or union member, to name a few. Through these in-depth vignettes of individuals and their motivations, readers learn about the automation technologies that the team will cobble together to bring their semiautomated mason to life.
VERDICT Fans of applied iterative trial and error, common to all innovation work, will appreciate this latest piece of popular science and technology.
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