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Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot, which went on sale for $74,500 in June, has found early success working in the construction industry. The RBR50 company recently announced a partnership with Trimble to expand Spot’s capabilities within the construction industry.
As part of Boston Dynamics’ Early Adopter Program, Foster + Partners, a London-based architectural design and engineering firm, is using the quadruped to capture and monitor progression of one of its sites.
Using its Battersea Roof Gardens mixed use project as a testbed, Foster + Partners developed a map to roughly set up the missions Spot needed to follow on site to scan certain areas and capture specific data. Returning to the site on a weekly basis allowed Spot to re-run the same missions with the process yielding a sequence of highly comparable, consistent models.
“The ability of Spot to repeatedly and effortlessly complete routine scans, in an ever-changing environment, was invaluable not only in terms of the consistency but also the large amount of high-quality data collected,” said Martha Tsigkari, Partner, Foster + Partners. “Through this process we developed a sequence of scans that may help us track the project progress against timeframes as well as facilitate regular comparisons against the BIM model. Our scans can ensure that very quick and accurate changes to the newly designed system could be made to accommodate the differences captured by the scans – all in a matter of days. This could result in savings both in terms of time and money.”
Construction sites are inherently dynamic environments, where changes need to be tracked and measured on a regular basis. Capturing errors early can help a project stay on time and budget. If done manually, the process is time consuming and may potentially yield scans that can’t be easily compared against each other. Spot, which can be controlled remotely, is terrain-agnostic and can also repeatedly follow a pre-mapped route, while avoiding obstacles or even climbing stairs, making it a handy tool.
Earlier this week, Boston Dynamics unveiled Spot 2.1. The Waltham, Mass.-based company said the update includes features to “make Spot immediately useful out of the box for autonomous data-collection missions.” Spot 2.1 is intended to make it easier for users to attach sensors, collect and save data, and integrate data into their existing systems.
Foster + Partners said Spot has also been vital in constructing a digital twin of its London campus. Spot’s Autowalk functionality allowed the team to build a four-dimensional model, showing how the space changes over time.
“Combining temporal and spatial information with data from sensors that read environmental conditions and occupancy, we can construct an intricate model of how people, furnishings and environmental conditions interact,” said Adam Davis, Partner, Foster + Partners. “This, in turn, helps us to operate our premises more efficiently and to anticipate how new designs will perform.
Despite the fact Spot has continued to make news with potential applications, Softbank Group is reportedly in talks to sell Boston Dynamics to Hyundai Motor for upwards of $1 billion. If a sale was to take place, it would be the third owner of Boston Dynamics in seven years. It was acquired by Google in 2013 and sold to Softbank in 2017.
“What made the adoption of Spot robot technology feasible and fruitful in such a short amount of time was the extraordinary support we received from Boston Dynamics throughout the process. We look forward to continuing our work with them to push the boundaries of innovation in the construction industry,” added Tsigkari.
Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics, recently joined The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the commercial launch of Spot and its most unique applications. You can listen to that conversation below.