David Frane | January 27, 2018

Video Treats // Tools

Man vs. Robot in Hole Drilling Contest


For simple repetitive tasks it’s hard to beat a machine.


A company called nLink posted this video of their ceiling drilling robot. Self-propelled models exist but this one is placed on rolling scaffolding that is occasionally pushed forward by a tradesman who for the most part stands around drinking coffee. In the meantime, a second tradesman tries to keep up with the robot—and fails spectacularly.


My take: 

  • The fellow who is drilling by hand is not very well organized and doesn’t strike me as an experienced tradesman. He seems kind of klutzy.
  • If it was me doing the work I’d mark the layout on a story pole and use it to transfer marks to the ceiling. Measuring and marking a whole lot of holes overhead with a folding rule is just crazy. 
  • Still, even if he were to go faster I can’t see the human tradesman keeping up with a robot over the course of an 8-hour day. Obviously, robots are more likely to outpace humans for repetitive tasks and on commercial sites such as this one—where the robot can be wheeled across the floor. Fortunately for us humans, not every jobsite or construction task is like that.


—David Frane is a freelance writer and a good buddy of ours. A former carpenter, he has covered tools and construction for JLC, Tools of the Trade, Core77 and other publications. He lives in Northern California.



it must take time setting robot to drill depths accurately as well were humans would require no setup

Surely robot is faster, but that man is slower than slow motion. If he was in by company, i would let him go for "vacations" not for this job...

amazing all theses great videos about drilling concrete & human is not wearing respirator or controlling silica dust

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