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Foster + Partners tests robotic scanning for progress in construction

Boston Dynamics SPOT Cyberdog inspects construction progress at Battersea Power Station (Copyright: Aaron Hargreaves / Foster + Partners

As part of Boston Dynamics' Early Adopter Programme, Foster + Partners has been exploring the use of Spot (Registered Trademark), the agile robot that climbs stairs and traverses rough terrain with ease as a tool to capture and monitor progression on-site.

The practice's Applied Research + Development group (ARD) has been working with Boston Dynamics to explore the potential of a robot in a dynamic environment such as a construction site, capturing changes on a regular basis, and being able to easily compare the 'as-designed' models against the 'as built' reality.

Construction sites, the architecture firm says are 'inherently dynamic environments, where changes need to be tracked and measured on a regular basis, capturing errors in time to meet the project timeframe and budget. With several contractors working in tamden on site, there is a need for a process that can allow for constant, quick and consistent precision monitoring of the works, which can ensure that potential deviation from the design - which may affect later works - can be picked up on time. Sequential scans also help supervise procurement and logistics and ensure that timeframes can be kept under check. If done manually, the process is time consuming and may potentially yield scans that cannot be easily compared against each other.

'Spot can be controlled remotely, is terrain-agnostic and can also repeatedly follow a pre-mapped route - while avoiding obstacles or even climbing stairs - making it an optimal tool to be used to scan building sites on a regular basis with minimum resources and time.

'Using the practice's Battersea Roof Garden mixed use project - part of the third phase of the Battersea Power Station development - as a testbed, the team devised a map to roughly set up the missions Spot needed to follow on site in order to scan certain areas and capture specific data. Returning to the site on a weekly basis allowed Spot to re-run the same missions with the process yielding as the firm says ' a sequence of highly comparable, consistent models.'

Martha Tsigkari, Partner, Foster + Partners said:

'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. Through this process we developed a sequence of scans that may help us track the project progress against timeframes as well as facilitate regular comparisons against the BIM model.

'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.'

Foster + Partners says that Spot has also been instrumental in constructing a digital twin of the company's campus in London. Spot's Autowalk functionality allowed the team to build up a four-dimensional model, showing how the space changes over time.


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