Spot the robot dog fitted with scanner for 3D site data capture

A robot ‘dog’ created by US robotics firm Boston Dynamics has been fitted with a 3D laser scanner to allow it to undertake autonomous 3D data capture on construction sites.

Software company Trimble has integrated its X7 3D laser scanner and FieldLink software with the robot.

The autonomous workflow for the X7 laser scanner uses fully integrated Spot robot controls in FieldLink software to create a predefined path of waypoints for Spot to follow and collect laser scans, according to BIM+.

The data collection missions can be scheduled to run on a regular and consistent basis for design validation and progress reporting. The advantage of this combination is increased efficiency and real-time, as-built data analysis in the field and in the office, Trimble claimed. 

Laser scans collected using the X7 scanner and Spot can be tied to a jobsite project coordinate system, as well as individual scan stations. The data is collected, and then made into a composite point cloud in real-time on the Trimble tablet controller before leaving the site.

While performing autonomous operations, Spot’s docking station enables the in-field charging of batteries on both the robot and the X7 3D laser scanner, and also provides the continuous transfer of data through a gigabit ethernet connection to the office.

Brian Ringley, construction product manager at Boston Dynamics, said: “Our construction customers require turnkey solutions for autonomous jobsite documentation and analysis. Boston Dynamics’ strategic alliance with Trimble has allowed us to build that solution collaboratively by combining our strengths in robotics and construction, respectively.

“It’s never been easier to scan a jobsite, and the increased scanning frequency is creating new opportunities in automated project analysis and insight.”

Thai Nguyen, director of virtual design and construction at top 20 US contractor, Hensel Phelps, said: “The relationship between Trimble and Boston Dynamics is really special. Users don’t have to figure out the integration of the scanner. It also enables us to work with only one vendor.

“Using the X7 integrated with Spot lets us document changes on the jobsite and make important decisions in the field, rather than waiting hours or potentially days for the information to be relayed to our project staff. This allows us to make the best decisions as quickly as possible with the best information.”

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