Robot dog begins work on San Francisco airport project

Boston Dynamics, the US company best known for creating Spot, the robot dog, has formed a partnership with three other tech companies put Spot to work on construction sites.

To adapt its canine to the needs of construction, Boston has teamed up with German-American start-up HoloBuilder, Singoporean imaging company Faro Technologies and Californian software company Trimble.

The partnership will give Spot access to construction software packages Revit, Trimble Connect and BIM360. It will also equip it with HoloBuilder’s SpotWalk, an application that allows users to train the dog to negotiate their construction sites so that it can collect 360° images of them.

Andrew Cameron, a project manager at US contractor Hensel Phelps, said in Boston’s press release: "Traditionally, you would have to sacrifice time out of a busy day to harvest jobsite pictures and organise them. 

This partnership between HoloBuilder and Boston Dynamics removes a time-consuming step while providing accurate construction photos with a high degree of fidelity."

A promotional video of Spot in action can be seen here.

Hensel Phelps conducted pilot tests of the SpotWalk app at its $1.2bn Harvey Milk Terminal 1 project at San Francisco International Airport. According to a HoloBuilder, "the pilot showed that with minimal training on-site the project team can get SpotWalk functioning".

Michael Perry, Boston’s vice president of business development, said: "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."

The SpotWalk app will be available through an early adopter programme that began this week, in which customers will receive two Spot robots, the HoloBuilder technology suite, and on-site training.

Image: HoloBuilder’s demonstration of Spot in action

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  1. One cant help wondering how it would navigate a site that is less tidy, ‘walking” over objects on the floor, negotiating around equipment, scaffold, workers, water hazards, temporary blockage of access (eg when a floor screed is still wet, door closed up, light stands and many others). That site shown was remarkably clean/tidy hardly typical of the average site condition.

    Also the site environment is constantly changing, walls go up, doors get hung, access gets blocked and reopened, holes are cut in the floor (and guarded), piles of drywall or other materials are placed in its path etc

    Dust, water leaking onto it, abuse are other possibilities also.

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