Robot dog unleashed for construction site work

Spot the robot dog was one of the stars of this year’s NXT BLD, the technology conference and exhibition for architecture, engineering and construction held recently at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, London.

Officially called SPOTmini, the robot dog was being launched into the construction market by its developers, Boston Dynamics, a US engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now a wholly owned subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group.

As described last October in BIM+, Spot is a small, all-electric four-legged robot that weighs 25kg (30kg including the arm) and can operate for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing.

It can pick up and handle objects using its five-degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors. The sensor suite includes stereo cameras and depth cameras for detailed inspection work on site, an inertial measurement unit (IMU) and position/force sensors in the limbs which help with navigation and mobile manipulation.

The presentation of SPOTmini’s capabilities was made by Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics, who leads the company’s efforts to identify markets for the next generation of highly mobile robots.

He explained that following an initial mapping run, the robot was sent to navigate two construction sites in Tokyo in Japan, using a specialised payload for surveying work. It is now ready for full commercial use on site.

See the conference highlights here.

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