Software Companies Develop The Following Technology For Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog


Dive brief:

  • Software companies Trimble and Piaggio fast forward – a subsidiary of Italian automaker Piaggio Group – announced the concept of a new technological solution that enables robots to track humans and other machines in construction and industrial applications.
  • The team developed a patent-pending prototype module, featured on Boston Dynamics’ Spot the robot dog, that allows the robot to autonomously track a human on a construction site.
  • Once the robot has “walked” the route, it can repeat routes and adapt to changes in the environment without being guided by a human using a joystick. Several robots can also follow a human at a time.

Dive overview:

Many types of robots are controlled via a joystick in person or remotely, but the new concept gives the robot more autonomy. PFF engineers have developed intelligent tracking technology for its “gita” robot – a robot designed to carry up to 40 pounds cargo or baggage – and adapted the software to run in a stand-alone module called PFFtag, which can be integrated with other machines or robots.

Once the module is connected, a push of a button activates a network of sensors that pair with a leader who then directs Spot or another robot on a construction site. Trimble and PFF performed tests using a Spot robot equipped with Trimble laser scanning and PFFtag technology at one of its customers’ sites in Colorado for two months.

Spot has been marketed for construction and tested as a payload for laser scanning technology for over a year – and has since become commercially available. In November 2019, Hensel Phelps Flown Spot on the Harvey Milk Terminal 1 project at San Francisco International Airport. Construction software company Holobuilder has developed the SpotWalk app, which sends Spot along predetermined routes to capture images to record construction progress.

Then, in May 2020, Hensel Phelps used Spot in a real world app on the Denver International Airport Expansion Project. Unlike the San Francisco, Denver project, Hensel Phelps used Trimble laser scanners to communicate directly with the Boston Dynamics platform, which shut down the robot to perform the scans, as well as constantly pairing the images together to create A file.

Using Spot and similar robots like this will most likely benefit hospital, university and airport projects, due to their large amount of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems in widely open areas.


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