Spot robot is ready for on-site inspection at a large construction site

For years, we have seen Boston Dynamics keep making viral videos of their robots walking, climbing, jumping, performing gymnast, and much more. But we haven’t seen them doing some real work. However, the company has now started selling its Spot robots to the interested companies that want to put it to work.

A German-American construction technology-startup HoloBuilder, in partnership with Boston Dynamics, has announced that Spot, equipped with its virtual reality software, has begun on-site inspection at a large construction site. This is the first time that Spot has been officially put into the construction site.

Spot’s task is to take 360-degree photos of every corner of the scene using virtual reality software. The photos are then used to reconstruct the site into virtual reality, where engineers can see it and check the progress of the work.

Spot replaced the human field shooting that had been done so far. According to the company, the SpotWalk removes a time-consuming step while providing accurate construction photos with a high degree of fidelity.

Equipped with a 360° camera, Spot walks a jobsite and captures 360° images. Credit: HoloBuilder
Equipped with a 360° camera, Spot walks a jobsite and captures 360° images. Credit: HoloBuilder

Boston Dynamics said construction sites are one of Spot’s most important applications. Spot’s first mission area was inspecting the construction of the new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). HoloBuilder and construction firm Hensel Phelps put the Spot into multi-week pilot tests in the spring and fall.

Spot basically moves to remote control by default, but once a path is entered, it can then travel the same path by itself, avoiding obstacles using the sensor. HoloBuilder engineers only need to remotely control the spot with a dedicated smartphone app ‘SpotWalk’ and create a route map for the first time.

The SpotWalk app has two general modes. The first enables project teams to teach Spot the capture route simply by driving the robot via an intuitive smartphone interface. The second mode drives Spot autonomously on its trained path, taking pictures along the way at defined capture locations, delivering immediate value to the construction project and workforce.

Boston Dynamics plans to produce 1000 spots by mid-2020. 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.

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