Spotted! Out on site with Balfour Beatty

Spot may have entertained at Digital Construction Week, but out on the construction site, this automated co-bot is already hard at work for numerous clients

“Robots conducting automated on-site data capture and monitoring are coming to a construction site near you.”

Trimble Press Release

…but did you know that Spot, the agile robot with the Trimble X7 3D Laser Scanner, is already being used commercially on four different sites across the UK and Ireland!

In each case, the purchase of Spot and the X7 was based on a carefully researched benefit-cost analysis, taking into account that Spot and the X7 is an autonomous system and the only one available where contractors can operate both the robot and laser scanner through a single integrated tablet controller.

Following on from our first Spot post, ‘What does autonomy mean to you’, we look forward to bringing you stories from all of Spot’s ‘owners’ and first up in this series is a look at how Balfour Beatty’s Digital Plant Manager, Mark Crawford, assisted the company to become the first in the UK to have the fully integrated Trimble workflow between Spot and the X7.

Mark explains how autonomous Spot was introduced to a working site at the end of 2021:

“This integrated workflow means that not only do we have a ‘working’ dog instead of a ‘show’ dog but it’s also our first robotic employee, who has already been out walking and capturing data across our site in Derby for the last 48 hours.

We spent day one doing business introductions and site inductions with a full site tour for operational familiarisation, plus the expected fun of walking up and down stairs, over obstacles, through the offices and then we got down to some proper work.

Out on its own in the wet and windy weather we’ve completed its first solo fieldwalk mission, with a 12 scan set up, all done in 18 minutes of scanning time and 10 minutes of travel – back on the dock and point to point registration and refinement complete in under 10 minutes has resulted in us capturing 65.4 million points and a working model to measure off for our facilities team.

There’s been a lot of buzz and excitement around this platform and integrated solutions and quite rightly so. To be able to get one in, employed and deployed on our sites only heightens that excitement when you start to consider the art of the possible on the journey of robotics and reality capture and automated tasks.”  

Spot podcast – autonomous applications

Mark Crawford (right) taking delivery of Balfour Beatty's new co-bot (centre) from Chris Quirk (left)
Chris Quirk from Trimble Buildings alongside Mark Crawford of Balfour Beatty, and their new Spot co-bot

Following on from the introduction of Spot, Mark teamed up with Trimble’s David Burczyk, Construction Robotics Lead at Trimble Connected Construction, to record a Spot podcast for the Constructive Voices series. This is an extremely informative look at how the business decision to purchase Spot and the X7 was reached and what Balfour Beatty hopes to achieve through this innovative step. Both have plenty of insights to share:

“We’re doing things with a remote operator app which will allow you to remotely operate Spot without having to be physically on the same job site.” David Burczyk, Trimble.

“Sellafield has worked with Spot to take radiation readings…. with a person operating him from a place of safety and the robot goes instead. That’s got to be a win in anybody’s eyes.” Mark Crawford, Balfour Beatty.

Listen to the podcast here:

What’s Next?