Mace tests Spot the robot dog on Heathrow M&E work

Spot the robot dog at work in Heathrow's cargo tunnel
Spot the robot dog – rechristened ‘Dave’ by the project team – at work in Heathrow’s cargo tunnel
Mace and Heathrow Airport have deployed Boston Dynamics’ Spot the robot dog to provide 3D laser scans of a 1960s cargo tunnel at the airport.

Mace is leading on the refurbishment and updating of cargo tunnel’s M&E services, bringing them into compliance with new regulations. The project team is trialling Spot, equipped with a Trimble X7 scanner.

Mace is using Spot to safely retrieve data from the construction site. The team then use the data alongside 3D models and augmented reality to track accuracy and progress on the work.

The robot is increasing safety on site by reducing human exposure to trips, slips and accidents, particularly in hazardous, dark, or slippery locations. It is also improving efficiency on site as the scans taken by the robot are quick and accurate.

Mace’s Heathrow project team chose to call their new colleague ‘Dave’ after holding a competition to choose a name. 

Working round the clock

Mark Reynolds, group chairman and chief executive of Mace, said: “The introduction of our new robot colleague, Dave, at Heathrow is a fantastic demonstration of the future of our industry. Robots will never replace people in construction. But this pilot shows how they have the potential to drive greater efficiency, capture records digitally and improve safety and delivery.

“Passengers at Heathrow may never notice the difference. But hopefully they’ll be pleased to know Dave is working round the clock to make sure the airport runs as smoothly as possible in the future.

“The introduction of new technology is helping us collect important as-built data, while keeping our people safe in difficult locations, allowing them to focus on planning and delivering our projects more effectively.”

Emma Gilthorpe, chief operating officer at Heathrow, added: “Heathrow’s vision is to give passengers the best airport experience in the world and, in order to do that, we need great people, and we also need innovation. Dave the dog has been a fantastic innovation, enabling us to perform the tasks that we need to do – using robotics and automation.

“We are really excited to be working with Mace on this trial and we look forward to seeing how we can best deploy this technology across construction projects at Heathrow.”

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