Robotic dog snooping at NCC OOPS site

The people at OOPS construction site must have rubbed their eyes in disbelief when they saw the robotic dog ”Spot” snooping around the site. The doggie’s presence in Hatsinanpuisto of Leppävaara, Espoo, evoked immediate attention like pets usually do. But it is not exactly a workplace pet that we are talking about here, is it?

”Spot’s” visit to NCC’s building site OOPS in Leppävaara was connected with the construction of the software company Trimble’s headquarters. During the visit the joint research team of Trimble and Aalto University took the opportunity to test the operation of the robotic dog in a genuine site environment.

The doggie seemed happy at the site. Waked up from its basket it rolled on its back and stood up on the long greyhound-like feet, ready to examine the surroundings and climb the stairs. With the aid of the dog the research team were able to test remote control from New Zealand and compare a laser scan from the built environment with the respective building information model (BIM).

”The first visit of the dog was an interesting and exotic experience. It caused some jaws to drop at the site all right,” NCC’s Digitalisation Engineer Eero-Pekka Piipponen laughs.

The dog snoops and collects information

So it was not any ordinary pet who visited the site. ”Spot” is a robotic dog doing things it is programmed to do. It uses AI technology to collect information from the places it snoops, to learn and improve.

The robotic dog can be equipped with devices depending on the particular task it is assigned to do. For example, it can be used for acquiring images and videos with the aid of a camera fitted on its back. The dog never tires of navigating the same route and measuring the progress of works at the site. When the dog is familiar with the BIM, it can make comparisons with the actual situation at the site.

”It was great to test all of the useful properties that the dog can offer at the site and see how it works and moves without difficulty from one space to another. While Spot is moving around the site, the site management and engineers can concentrate on other productive work. At least we won’t need to walk the dog or buy treats for it. It can apparently also bark, but that we have not heard yet,” Piipponen reckons.

Job opportunities for site dogs

Piipponen thinks that more pets like ”Spot” will be adopted at construction sites before long. There is definitely enough potential and prospects for growth there. ”The robotic dog is not a free pet, but it is certainly a good investment which earns more than it eats provided you can train and use its competence properly.”

The dog may even play an important role in health and safety work. It can be used for making site safety observations, such as goods lingering around the site, missing protective railing etc.

I hear you can even command the dog to watch the building site for the night and monitor what goes on there,” Piipponen smiles.

The robotic dog ”Spot” is part of the Building2030 project of Aalto University in which OOPS’ future tenant Trimble participates. Later on NCC will also obtain a dog of the same breed as their pet. It will then be circulated around NCC’s sites in the Nordic countries starting in Goteborg, Sweden.

Have a look at the video of the robotic dog “Spot”

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