Heathrow employs robotic dog to improve efficiency and safety on major construction projects


Heathrow Airport and Mace, a global consultancy and construction company, have employed ‘Dave’, a robotic dog, to improve efficiency and safety on major construction projects. The team are trialling ‘Spot the Dog’, a robot developed by Boston Dynamics, equipped with a Trimble X7 scanner to provide 3D laser scans during the ongoing refurbishment of a 1960s cargo tunnel at Heathrow Airport.

Heathrow Airport and Mace, a global consultancy and construction company, have employed ‘Dave’, a robotic dog, to improve efficiency and safety on major construction projects.

The team are trialling ‘Spot the Dog’, a robot developed by Boston Dynamics, equipped with a Trimble X7 scanner to provide 3D laser scans during the ongoing refurbishment of a 1960s cargo tunnel at Heathrow Airport. They chose to call their new colleague ‘Dave’ after holding a competition to choose a name.

“Heathrow’s vision is to give passengers the best airport experience in the world and, in order to do that, we need great people, and we also need innovation,” said Emma Gilthorpe, Chief Operating Officer, Heathrow. “Dave the Dog has been a fantastic innovation enabling us to perform the tasks that we need to do – using robotics and automation. We are really excited to be working with Mace on this trial and we look forward to seeing how we can best deploy this technology across construction projects at Heathrow.”

Mace is leading the refurbishment and updating of aging mechanical and electrical services, bringing them into compliance with new regulations, within the tunnel that is used to transport baggage and cargo across the airport.

The robot dog allows the project team to safely retrieve data from the building site, which is then used alongside 3D models and augmented reality to track accuracy and progress on the construction work. It increases safety by reducing trips, slips and accidents, particularly in hazardous, dark, or slippery locations. It is also improving efficiency onsite as the scans taken by the robot are quick and accurate.

“The introduction of our new robot colleague, Dave, at Heathrow is a fantastic demonstration of the future of our industry,” said Mark Reynolds, Group Chairman and Chief Executive, Mace. “Robots will never replace people in construction – but this pilot shows how they have the potential to drive greater efficiency, capture records digitally and improve safety and delivery. Passengers at Heathrow may never notice the difference – but hopefully they’ll be pleased to know Dave is working round the clock to make sure the airport runs as smoothly as possible in the future. The introduction of new technology is helping us collect important as-built data, whilst keeping our people safe in difficult locations, allowing them to focus on planning and delivering our projects more effectively.”

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