Robot Dog Showcases Construction Capabilities


Recently, engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics (Waltham, Massachusetts) showcased its latest technology, Spot the robot dog.

According to reports, the robot dog is intended to be used as a vehicle for carrying image capturing or laser scanning equipment where humans might not be able to.

Spot in the Spotlight

In the middle of February, Spot displayed its capabilities at the HITT’s Co|Lab in Falls Church, Virginia. Using 3D measuring and imaging technology from Faro Technologies (Lake Mary, Florida), Spot was instructed to walk up and down stairs and through rough terrain while autonomously capturing images for HITT’s team and end users.

According to Boston Dynamics, Spot can only be obtained through an early adopter program. However, lease prices claim to run less than that of a car, depending on the time period and amount of units.

Prior to the showcase at Co|Lab, Spot was used by Hensel Phelps on a $1.2 billion San Francisco International Airport terminal project. Onsite, Hensel tested HoloBuilder Inc.’s SpotWalk app, which enables Spot to take 360-degree photos and videos once a path where it can walk is determined.

In all of the robot dog’s testing, Spot has been confirmed to be able to carry up to 25 pounds of payload and is able to use up to three different types of scanning or data capturing equipment through both autonomous and remote controlled methods.

Despite its success, Michael Perry, Vice President of Business Development for Boston Dynamics reports that the company is still focusing on Spot’s data capture, sensors and mobility, as the technology is still considered to be in the beta stages of testing.

“We've seen requests for allowing owners to teleoperate Spot over remote jobsites, enable inspectors to regularly check for cold spots in window casings using thermal cameras, and many others,” he said.

Megan Lantz, Vice President of Corporate Business Development for HITT told reporters that this demonstration is just the beginning, as the company intends to host  a master series of presentations at Co|Lab where other new technologies and innovations can be demonstrated in a single presentation per quarter.

Robots in Construction

Back in August, researchers from the University of Waterloo announced that they were working on developing a more reliable robotic inspection technology that could reduce the cost of bridge inspections.

Individually programmed with inspection plans and location focus areas per bridge inspection, the robots consist of six five-megapixel cameras able to create a 360-degree view mounted on an autonomous ground vehicle. In addition to the cameras, the robots also use lidar—a remote sensing method using lasers—which collect data on present defects and makes an analysis of the inspected findings.

A month later, Prima Industrie (Italy) announced that the 4D Hybrid Autonomous Robot project, intended for use on metal surfaces in land and offshore projects, would be making its debut.

Originally launched in 2017, the technology was funded by European Commission Horizon 2020 and involved 12 other industrial players, operating as technology suppliers and end-users. The technology was designed with aerospace, oil, gas and power generation industries in mind so that it could perform detection and reparation of metal vertical surfaces on land and offshore environments.

Geared with two rubber belts, the track-designed robotic vehicle is reportedly able to tackle slippery vertical surfaces, keeping contact with exteriors using a powerful vacuum-based adhesion system placed at its center. The tracks are then able to move the robot in a back-and-forth or rotating fashion, even on its main axis.

Additionally, the 4D Hybrid can work in the presence of dirt, water, on various conditions of metal surfaces and in environmental temperatures varying between 3 C and 35 C. Regarding possible dispersion, the hybrid is also equipped with a power recovery system that sucks up powders and carries them back to the top of the maintained structure.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Construction; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Research; Research and development; Robotics; Technology; Tools & Equipment; Z-Continents

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