For years, people have joked that Boston Dynamics is more a maker of viral videos than of robots. The company has dazzled (and sometimes creeped out) the internet with clips of its robotic dog Spot walking, climbing stairs, jumping, dancing, and gyrating—but not doing any real work.
In September, though, the company (which was previously part of Google) started leasing Spots to companies that want to put it to work, at least in pilot projects. (It reportedly plans to build 1,000 Spots for customers by mid-2020.) The first to debut a full application using Spot is a German-American firm called HoloBuilder.
It’s equipped the robot to regularly walk large construction sites, collecting 360-degree images, a la Google Street View, so engineers can track the progress of work.Spot got its first assignment, fittingly, in the Silicon Valley area—surveying construction of the new Harvey Milk Terminal 1 at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
HoloBuilder and construction firm Hensel Phelps ran multi-week pilot tests in the spring and fall in which Spot briefly took over the painstaking site surveying job that human field engineers normally do with handheld 360-degree cameras and HoloBuilder’s Reality Capture Platform software. “[It’s] about freeing their time up to do something that is less repetitive,” says HoloBuilder’s CMO Christian Claus.READ MORE