Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot is roaming construction sites on the Virginia Tech campus in a test to determine whether autonomous robots can improve on human monitoring of construction progress. A new report on the study’s progress documents operating procedures as well as advantages and limitations.



Virginia Tech researchers are unleashing an autonomous robot dog on university construction sites to investigate the applications of using robots to monitor construction progress.

Faculty and students from Myers-Lawson School of Construction, within the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and College of Engineering, are partnering with the Division of Campus Planning, Infrastructure, and Facilities and industry sponsor Procon Consulting to deploy Spot, a mobile robot dog developed by Boston Dynamics, to conduct this innovative research.

The ongoing experimental investigation is exploring whether construction progress monitoring – a traditionally human-dependent, labor-intensive, and error-prone process – can be improved by leveraging autonomous robotic technology to lead the systematic collection of data in construction environments.

Six months into the yearlong study, the team recently published its initial findings, which include operating procedures required to launch legged robots in dynamic construction settings and early opportunities and limitations in using robots in this capacity.

“Introducing robotic technologies on construction sites can offer many exciting opportunities. The ability to monitor construction progress remotely through autonomous means is a prime example. Other opportunities are improving the accuracy of data collection, accessing hard-to-reach or hazardous job sites, and diverting human capital capacity to other tasks,” said Kereshmeh Afsari, assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and the project’s principal investigator.