Robot dog helps keep architecture project on track

Published: 18 Nov 2020
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Architecture firm Foster + Partners has employed a robot dog named Spot® to oversee construction at Battersea Power Station in London, an enormous development that will encompass housing and a 250-metre-long garden overlooking the Thames

The four-legged remote-controlled machine, designed by Boston Dynamics, which stands about 80cm high and weighs 30kg, can walk up and down stairs, move across uneven ground and avoid obstacles. Using its 3D vision camera and a suite of sensors for navigation and mobile manipulation, Spot® scans the site and the information it gathers is fed back to Foster + Partners which then updates its ‘digital twin’ model of the €10 billion development, thereby measuring progress against budget and timeframe. ‘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,’ says Martha Tsigkari of Foster + Partners.  ‘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.’

Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 as a spin-off from Massachusetts Institute of Technology but is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group. It is known for building advanced robots that boast mobility, agility, dexterity and speed.

See Spot in action…