LAS VEGAS — HoloBuilder Inc. announced at Autodesk University here this week that it has released SpotWalk, the result of its partnership with Boston Dynamics Inc. SpotWalk integrates HoloBuilder’s software for documenting and managing construction projects into Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot.
The companies said the “partnership brings autonomous 360° reality capture to construction projects, addressing core productivity inefficiencies that continue hampering the construction industry.” HoloBuilder uses imagery data, computer vision, and artificial intelligence in its software-as-a-service offerings. The San Francisco-based company said the majority of top 100 general contractors in the U.S. use its services.
Waltham, Mass.-based Boston Dynamics has been well-known for years for viral videos of its humanoid and quadruped robots. (Editor’s note: Founder and CEO Marc Raibert delivered the closing keynote at last year’s Robotics Summit.) Now owned by SoftBank Group, the company announced the commercial availability of Spot in a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model in September. Boston Dynamics has been in talks with Cirque du Soleil.
Construction, infrastructure inspection, and maintenance are increasingly using robots, drones, and AI. The global market for construction robotics will grow from $22.7 million in 2018 to $226 million by 2025, predicted Tractica. Research and Markets has forecast that the market will grow from $78.6 billion in 2018 to $186.6 billion in 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.5%.
Bringing Spot to construction sites
Controlled by HoloBuilder’s SpotWalk app, Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot can autonomously walk job sites and capture 360° images to record the progress of a construction project over time. The companies said this process allows for quality and accuracy control, giving contractors, trade partners, and owners a digital record. The integration can create repeatable, actionable data; address all phases of a construction project; and improve productivity, they added.
The SpotWalk app has two general modes. The first allows project teams to teach Spot a route simply by driving the robot via a smartphone interface. The second mode drives Spot autonomously on its trained path, taking pictures along the way at defined capture locations.
HoloBuilder said its SiteAI machine learning engine analyzes images captured by SpotWalk to get insights into a job site. Combined with quantifiable analysis, the project site data can enable contractors and owners to continually report on their progress, said the company.
“The SpotWalk app is a first-of-its-kind integration for Boston Dynamics’ robots,” said Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics. “Our efforts have been to create a highly mobile robotics platform that can easily navigate unstructured or unknown environments. HoloBuilder’s SpotWalk app takes this a step further by creating an easy-to-use interface that fits seamlessly into construction workflows. We’re excited to see this integration start rolling out to early customers soon.”
Boston Dynamics will also be working with Trimbles’ and Hilti’s cloud-based construction management software, GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology, and “reality capture” devices or sensors. The goal in this partnership is to improve workflows and reduce rework, stated Aviad Almagor, senior director for mixed reality and brain-computer interface (BCI) at Trimble.
Hensel Phelps tries SpotWalk app
Nationwide construction firm Hensel Phelps conducted early pilot tests of the SpotWalk app at its $1.2 billion San Francisco Harvey Milk Terminal 1 Airport project. The pilot showed that with minimal training on-site, the project team can get SpotWalk functioning.
“Time and accuracy are two things that are very important to a job site. Traditionally, you would have to sacrifice time out of a busy day to harvest job-site pictures and organize them,” said Andrew Cameron, project manager at Hensel Phelps. “This partnership between HoloBuilder and Boston Dynamics removes a time-consuming step while providing accurate construction photos with a high degree of fidelity.”
Availability and feedback
SpotWalk is available through a six-month early-adopter program in which customers will receive two Spot robots, the full HoloBuilder technology suite, and on-site training.
HoloBuilder and Boston Dynamics said they will partner with innovative companies to get feedback and continue advancing Spot and SpotWalk. Since announcing the integration to customers who provide feedback in its exclusive Innovators Club, interest in getting SpotWalk has been overwhelming, said HoloBuilder.
“With SpotWalk, we can now enable our customers to capture data much more frequently and more precisely to get an even clearer picture of what the site’s progress is,” said Christian Claus, chief marketing officer and head of partnerships at HoloBuilder. “We are very excited to release SpotWalk and to continue our very positive collaboration with Boston Dynamics to not only support the industry, but [also] to also drive digitization and automation forward.”