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Spot on: Alliance to combine robots and GNSS tech for construction

October 26, 2020  - By
Spot, the robotic dog from Boston Dynamics, is equipped with the Trimble SPS986 smart antenna to collect data. (Photo: Trimble)

Spot, the robotic dog from Boston Dynamics, is equipped with the Trimble SPS986 smart antenna to collect data. (Photo: Trimble)

Trimble and Boston Dynamics plan to integrate a variety of data-collection technologies with the Spot (robot dog) platform for construction and other site applications.

The jointly developed solution will combine the Spot robot’s autonomous mobility with Trimble’s data-collection sensors and field control software to enable automation of repetitive tasks such as site scans, surveying and progress monitoring, while taking advantage of the robot’s unique capabilities to navigate dynamic and potentially unsafe environments.

The relationship gives Trimble exclusive rights sell and support the Spot robot with integrated scanning, total station and GNSS technologies for the construction market.

The turnkey solution will streamline operation of the robot and provide quality control for missions, enabling construction project managers to easily get a clear picture of jobsite progress on an ongoing basis. Trimble technologies integrated with the robot will enable accurate, scalable and rapid data acquisition, while Trimble’s construction collaboration platforms provide a continuous flow of information between field and office.

Mortenson, a Minneapolis builder, developer and engineering services provider, is one of the first customers to leverage the new technology combination. To eliminate jobsite waste and increase efficiency, the Mortenson team has been piloting Spot robots with the Trimble SPS986 GNSS solutions to autonomously navigate challenging exterior construction environments such as solar farms, continuously documenting site conditions.

An automated and repeatable approach to field-data capture can provide Mortenson with real-time awareness of project status, helping to accelerate project delivery. Through Trimble’s Early Experience Program, contractors such as Mortenson have advanced access to this technology for the purposes of evaluating its suitability in actual construction projects.

The Trimble SPS986 smart antenna. (Trimble: photo)

The Trimble SPS986 smart antenna. (Trimble: photo)

“Robots will play a crucial role in automated construction workflows and can augment the human workforce by handling dirty, dull and dangerous tasks,” said Martin Holmgren, general manager, Building Field Solutions at Trimble. “Our experience with early adopters like Mortenson gave us visibility into the transformative potential of an integrated solution that seamlessly marries a world-class robot with construction-specific sensors and workflows. We’re excited about this alliance and the potential to bring unprecedented improvements in safety, quality and productivity to our construction customers.”

“We believe the combination of Trimble’s experience and industry leadership in construction technologies and Boston Dynamics’ Spot can transform the way the industry operates,” said Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics. “The integrated solution will enable any jobsite leader to deploy Spot and Trimble technologies to get an accurate view of construction progress through real-time data collection. With a more comprehensive view of site activity, project managers can take proactive measures to ensure on-time, on-budget and safer project delivery.”

The integrated solution is expected to be available by the second quarter of 2021 through Boston Dynamics, Trimble and select BuildingPoint and SITECH distribution partners in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Through Trimble’s Early Experience Program, select customers will have the opportunity to preview development of the solution in advance of general availability.


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About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.