Meet Spot: A four-legged robot that could prove a contractor’s best friend

Updated: Mar. 2, 2020 at 5:27 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - At the Queen Emma Building job site, contractor Swinerton Builders has put a robot to work to track the general contractor’s progress and productivity.

The four-legged machine sees everything.

“We can see how many studs get placed per day, how many linear feet of conduit are installed by the electricians,” said Brandt Haapala, Swinerton’s assistant superintendent.

The 3-foot-tall yellow robot resembles a dog so designers named it Spot.

Engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics leased the robot to Swinerton for testing. It sent about 100 Spots to companies across the United States to see how the artificial intelligence performs in different industries.

Swinerton is converting the building into affordable rental apartments. It brought Spot on board a month ago.

“We attached a laser scanner to it and a 360-degree camera,” Swinerton’s operations director Jon Burke said.

The hardware takes precise measurements and snaps two photos a second. Burke said the data helped catch a discrepancy with the building’s columns and saved the company precious time.

“If we had caught that while we were out on the job site we would have had to stop work, submit an RFI and wait for a response, and move to another area. It just creates a headache for everyone,” Burke said.

Spot moves at 3 mph and can carry a 30-pound load. It’s handheld control console makes it user friendly.

"It's very similar to operating a video game controller or flying a drone," Haapala said.

The robot will soon be able to navigate the construction site completely on its own.

“It’s not going to replace anybody on site,” Haapala said.

“The goal for us as well as our entire corporation is to one day automate things that robots and computers are better at, which is collecting and analyzing data,” Burke said.

Spot will work at the Queen Emma Building until the end of the month then Swinerton moves it to another project.

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