Foster + Partners has tested Spot, a dog-like robot that can climb stairs and handle rough terrain while capturing and monitoring site progress.
The practice’s Applied Research + Development group (ARD) has been working with Spot’s developer Boston Dynamics 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”.
Spot can be controlled remotely, is terrain-agnostic and can also repeatedly follow a pre-mapped route – while avoiding obstacles or even climbing stairs.
Foster + Partners tested Spot on its Battersea Roof Gardens mixed use project – part of the third phase of the Battersea Power Station development. The team devised a map to roughly set up the missions Spot needed to follow on site in order to scan certain areas and capture specific data. Returning to the site on a weekly basis allowed Spot to re-run the same missions with the process yielding a sequence of “highly comparable, consistent models”.
Martha Tsigkari, a partner at Foster + Partners, said: “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. 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.”
Spot has also been deployed to help in the construction of a digital twin of the Foster + Partners campus in London. Spot’s Autowalk functionality allowed the team to build up a four-dimensional model, showing how the space changes over time.
Adam Davis, a partner at Foster + Partners, said: “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.
“What made the adoption of Spot robot technology feasible and fruitful in such a short amount of time was the extraordinary support we received from Boston Dynamics throughout the process. We look forward to continuing our work with them to push the boundaries of innovation in the construction industry,” added Tsigkari.