Trimble, Boston Dynamics Alliance Aims to Boost Robot Usage in Construction
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on November 18, 2020 |
The alliance aims to boost the use of robots in the construction industry.
(Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.)
(Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.)

While robots taking over construction jobs is an unlikely scenario anytime soon, Trimble and Boston Dynamics aim to make them an essential on-site data collection tool. The two companies recently announced a strategic alliance to incorporate Boston Dynamic’s Spot robot platform with Trimble’s field control software and data collection sensors.

“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, Trimble Building Field Solutions general manager. “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.”

Mortenson, a Minneapolis-based builder, developer and engineering services provider, is one of the first construction companies to test the integrated technologies. Focused on reducing jobsite waste and enhancing efficiency, it has been using a Spot robot outfitted with Trimble’s SPS986 GNSS solutions to autonomously navigate and document difficult construction sites.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot integrated with Trimble’s sensors and scanners will make surveying and site scans easier and safer. (Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.)
Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot integrated with Trimble’s sensors and scanners will make surveying and site scans easier and safer. (Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.)

Released in 2019, Spot is a remote-controlled quadruped robot with skills that include walking, trotting, climbing and avoiding obstacles, making it an ideal option for navigating challenging or unsafe conditions. The robot has 12 custom motors with a reduction and can move up to 1.6 meters per second. Since it became available, Spot has been used in various industries, including oil and gas, research, health care, mining and construction. Designed for commercial use, it is a major investment with a price tag of $74,500.

When outfitted with Trimble’s technologies, Spot creates an ideal solution for repetitive tasks and obtaining more accurate data.

“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, Boston Dynamics vice president of business development. “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 two companies plan to make their combined solution available in the second quarter of 2021 via Boston Dynamics, Trimble and global distribution partners.

Interested in other ways the construction industry is embracing technology? Check out How 3D Scanning Improves Virtual Design and Construction.

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