PCL Construction and Pomerleau collaborating to bring robotics to project sites

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Ontario Construction Report staff writer

PCL and Pomerleau Construction have collaborated to put Spot, a robotic dog, to work at a construction site in Toronto, a first for the industry. Along with Latium, Intel and Microsoft, the companies launched the first phase of a multi-step collaboration in November.

They say the partnership puts industry transformation ahead of competition. While this is the first robot to work on a construction site, bot companies believe robotics will be common in construction within the next five years.

yuri“It’s clear that both Pomerleau and PCL, as general contractors, were facing the same issues when it comes to integrating technology into the construction industry, so it makes sense that we’d share lessons learned, we’d work together and we’d address these issues together and we’d come at these issues with a strong, unified method,” Yuri Bartzis, innovation manager at Pomerleau explained in a video.

With a goal of using leading technologies to drive productivity and efficiency while enhancing quality and safety, PCL and Pomerleau joined forces to bring digital transformation and innovation to job sites, the beating heart of our industry.

Spot, an agile mobile robot designed by Boston Dynamics, made its debut on a Pomerleau site in Montreal in 2019. Pomerleau was the first construction company in the world to welcome Spot on its job sites. PCL Construction will now send Spot to a couple of job sites to further study and enhance how Spot can improve the company’s industry leading workflows.

“One of the main benefits that Spot can show us is how do we autonomously do mundane tasks . . . tasks that are hard to do or tasks that can be in certain spots that are congested or unsafe for a human being to go into, but also just to see what robots can do on a project site,” explained John Boktor, PCL’s senior manager, digital construction – business technology.

Spot was equipped with complementary technologies including 360-degree cameras, a Leica RTC360 3D laser scanner, and Latium Technologies environmental air quality sensors, GPS sensors and other LORA IoT based sensory as required.

Latium enabled Spot to collect data with the use of JSI®, aggregating and integrating job site information from 3rd party solutions and wireless IoT sensor data onto a single pane of glass. This enables job site personnel with real-time information to immediately respond to changing or adverse job site conditions and events, enhancing operational efficiencies while enhancing quality, safety, and operational efficiency.

“I think this is an interesting time to be in construction with robotics because its an industry that typically hasn’t digitized and we can use robotics to complement field workers,” said Mark Bryant, CEO of Latium Technologies.

“Having Spot outfitted and integrated into our JSI® platform gives to real-time insights to project teams, enabling them to make critical job site decisions in real-time.”

Spot frees up teams to focus on value-added tasks. Also, it can get into dangerous and hard to access or confined spaces, improving health and safety on job sites

The robot dog is also equipped with Intel and Microsoft Azure, IoT and edge computing, including a ruggedized add-on computer, powered with Intel’s high-performance Xeon processor with Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities and processing power that operates the sensors, and the additional components Spot carries as part of the job-site robotic experiment.

“We are thrilled about the opportunity to collaborate with leaders from other industries in bringing breakthrough innovation to the market,” said Denis Gaudreault, Intel Canada country manager said.

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