BAM pilots ‘robot dog’ on remote 5G network in Shetland

by Sion Geschwindt
BAM pilots 'robot dog' on remote 5G network in Shetland

Boston Dynamics‘ four-legged robot ‘Spot’ has been used to collect data and create site records on a remote Bam Nuttall site on Shetland Island.

Bam Nuttall has been piloting the use a private stand-alone 5G network for remote control of Spot and an integrated Trimble X7 laser scanner, marking the ‘robot-dog’s first 5G deployment in the UK.

Harsh weather conditions, challenging terrain and the isolated location meant that remote operation was critical to the trial’s success, Bam Nuttall said in a press release on Tuesday.

It proved the robot could take on days of manual surveying work and operate in areas and conditions hazardous to people – without operators needing to be on site or even travel to the remote island at all.

The Boston Dynamics/Trimble solution allows operators to survey sites remotely (Credit: Trimble)

Spot has been deployed as part of a 5G testbed funded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Bam Nuttall led a consortium, with Attocore and BRE, to create the private 5G stand-alone network on the remote construction site as well as employing other new technologies and reviewing their benefits for construction.

Colin Evison, head of innovation at Bam Nuttall, said: “This is just the start of our journey with Trimble and Boston Dynamics. We’ve worked with them every step of the way, conducting site visits and feeding back how Spot is working for us.

“As we face a skills shortage, become more in tune with the wellbeing of our people, and strive for more diversity, Spot has a number of benefits to safety and job design. This is all in addition to improvements to the efficiency and accuracy of our work.”

Brian Ringley, construction product manager for Boston Dynamics, said: “This project is exciting for us because it’s exactly the kind of application where a robot inherently makes sense and can immediately add value.

“It also shows that we can operate Spot effectively from hundreds of miles away and collect very reliable, repeatable data.

“It keeps staff from needing to travel to remote and hazardous locations, and it makes the entire surveying project run more efficiently. We’re looking forward to the next steps with the Bam Nuttall and Trimble teams.”

David Burczyk, construction robotics lead at Trimble, added: “BAM Nuttall’s deployment of the Trimble-Boston Dynamics integrated robot solution combined with a private 5G network, has demonstrated the possibilities of unsupervised, large-scale and real-time data collection on remote sites.”

Image credit: BAM Nuttall


Read next: BAM consortium trials 5G in UK industry-first

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