Spot, the Boston Dynamics robot, was put to the test by Foster + Partners to explore the potential of a robot in a dynamic environment such as a construction site, capturing changes on a regular basis, and being able to easily compare the ‘as-designed’ models against the ‘as-built’ reality. The robot supervised the construction of the Battersea Power Station mixed-use project in London.
The artificial four-legged machine climbs stairs and traverses rough terrain with ease as a tool to capture and monitor progress at Battersea Roof Gardens. The information Spot collects through the scan is sent to Foster + Partners and is used to build and update a digital twin model of the project, which is used to compare the design with the built reality.
The robot dog Spot is remote-controlled by the architects from a distance and follows a pre-mapped route over and over again. Its four legs help it navigate rough terrain, so it can explore sites that might be hazardous or uncomfortable for humans. According to the firm, the robot goes to the construction site once a week to follow its route and perform its site scan.
“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.“
The robot dog Spot can capture all the necessary elements that can optimize this type of monitoring, enhancing the final construction process.
“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. This, in turn, helps us to operate our premises more efficiently and to anticipate how new designs will perform,” said Adam Davis, Partner, Foster + Partners.
Battersea Roof Gardens is part of the conversion of Battersea Power Station, a decommissioned coal-fired power plant, into a mixed-use complex that will include apartments, a hotel with a rooftop infinity pool, and an Apple headquarters.