The ConTechCrew 244: Crossing the Chasm… with Robots! with Brian Ringley from Boston Dynamics
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Construction is the world’s oldest industry but spends the least amount of money on innovation. When we realized people outside and inside the industry, did not typically associate with technology like virtual reality, apps, and robotics, we started TheConTechCrew. Each week we bring our listeners the latest in ConTech news and interview the minds behind the technological innovations, changing the way we build. So, strap in, enjoy the ride, and geek out. It is ConTechCrew time!
JAMES: I’ve been waiting for this week. The robot dog we’ve been talking about for a while. We’re going to talk with the company that makes it, which is so exciting. And that’s going to happen this week. We’re gonna have a good discussion about robotics and our future robotic overlords, my goodness. But until then, my gosh, I’ve got Buck Davis back on the show, wearing in the San Diego Padres hat, man, but baseball season’s over, but he’s still celebrating baseball.
Buck: I am James and, you know, there’s a lot going on and I wanted to touch on this in the intro, it’s been getting fiery the past couple of weeks on social media, kind of coming to a head on Twitter. It’s gotten very political and I just wanted to come on here and say the X-Box X is far superior to the PlayStation 5.
JAMES: I agree. But did you see that you’re not supposed to vape into the box?
Buck: No, no vaping into the box.
JAMES: Microsoft did an advisory: don’t vape into the box.
Buck: I just wanted to let all the listeners know it’s the X-Box X. I got one it’s here. You don’t need to debate anymore. No more angry Twitters. No more tweets. It’s here and I’m really pumped to have this guest on, man. Everyone’s seen the yellow dog spot walking around AU. We got him here and I’m really glad to be on the show, James.
JAMES: I mean maybe, maybe spot’s going to be our future avatar where we’ll put a 360 camera on it and then remotely control him from afar, and that’s how we’ll attend shows and conferences is all of our spot robots will be walking around on our behalf, having conversations for us or something. Right.
Buck: Get three iPads and as we question people have the head change a little bit
JAMES: Oh my goodness. I was at con expo, you know, or as we call it Corona Fest, 2020. I was there, but talk about the trippiest weirdest conference. I think everybody kind of like knew as the end. You know, we were all, some people had like a super fatalistic perspective on it and they’re like, screw it If it’s all over, I’m going to go out and style. And they just went crazy in Vegas, what a weird deal. So as we speak it’s Friday the 13th.
Buck: Oh, I didn’t even know that
JAMES: Oh my goodness. It is. And we’ve got Brian Ringley here from the Boston Dynamics, Brian, what’s up brother?
Brian: Hey, how are you doing?
JAMES: Glad to have you join us from Brooklyn.
Brian: I’ve been here for eight years, but I don’t have the accent yet.
JAMES: Well, does anyone anymore? Cause I hear Brooklyn’s filled with hipsters who just have tight rolled jeans and walk around drinking their macchiatos.
Brian: Yeah that’s part of Brooklyn I’m in Benson Harris. So yeah, there’s still accents out here
JAMES: Talk about a changing neighborhood. All in the New York neighborhoods have evolved continuously. Are you guys on like level five locked down right now or what’s the deal over there in Brooklyn?
Brian: I mean, I don’t know what the rules are right now. Cases are spiking again, unfortunately, we had a real rough spring, but got it under control over the summer. So. Yeah, we’ll see
JAMES: I mean, everybody pretty much called for a resurgence in the, in the winter time. And it is what it is. I think that is to be expected, all that stuff. Look, we’re going to talk about robots and robot dogs. And as we refer to it, the snake headed robot, dog, as y’all call it, spot. We can just call it the SHRD you know, Maybe the shard.
Brian: Is this the robot that scares Jim?
JAMES: This is the robot that scares Jim! He said don’t be scared. It’s not gonna be able to unlock doors. Yet. Like the robot dog’s going to break in and then go laser scan your bedroom. I might deliver on time and on budget. That’s what three quarters of the construction industry I think is deadly definitely afraid of, on-time on-budget construction projects.
Brian: There are a few stakeholders out there that might make money off of that inefficiency. So, you know, it’s a tough industry to crack with the miscellaneous money. What are we going to do?
JAMES: And just to remind everybody out there and listener land never missed one of these episodes by having every one of them sent straight to your email inbox. When you text ConTech to 66866, not just the audio, you’re getting the show notes, the weekly email, the articles we talk about just text ConTech to 66866. If you have a question, comment or suggestion, get in touch with the crew on our Google voice line. That’s (979) 473-9040 and if you leave a voicemail, I might actually play it on the show, which would be super super fun. And, sometimes I actually just answer just for giggles. So if you see me answer, you can talk to me, that happened this past week. I just answered it for fun and had a chat with a listener. So again, that’s at (979) 473-9040 reminder of the cause of the show.
According to the CDC, construction occupations have the highest rate of suicide, as well as the highest number of suicides across all occupational groups. To combat these statistics, contractors, unions, associations, industry service providers, and project owners must work together to stand up for suicide prevention. The Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention is raising awareness about the risk of suicide within the construction industry and providing suicide prevention resources, and tools, to create a zero-suicide industry. Visit PreventConstructionsSuicide.com for more information.
And we are back with our special guest. The robot man himself, head of construction. I doubt anybody’s called you the robot man.
Brian: I’ve been called the robot man
JAMES: We were going to have so much. We’re going to talk about all kinds of things. We’re going to talk about robot dogs and robot humanoids, and ah, it’s Brian Ringley the ring master from Boston Dynamics. If you were on the show, if you were a co-host on the show, we’d probably call you the the robot ringmaster but that’s okay. Robot Ringmaster, that’s your new ConTech crew name. It’s like your Delta Tau Chi name from animal house.
Brian: I mean, I could just picture him at AAU, walking in with like five dogs, you know what I mean? Like, you know, there’s swarms with drones, just him coming in with five dogs following him and just like separating and going their own way and coming back. Oh, I’m the ringmaster now
JAMES: That is a setup for a phenomenal scifi movie. Brian, welcome to the show. Welcome to the crew. We’ve been talking about spot on. Dozens of episodes. We are so excited to have you on here.
Brian: Thank you so much for having me.
JAMES: We are going to talk about you first, cause we’re going to get to Boston dynamics. We’re going to talk about robots and their role in the future of human civilization, artificial intelligence, the inevitable super positioning of robots over humans, all that stuff. We’re going to talk about that later, but right now, I want to talk about you, a human being who was born in the upper peninsula of Michigan, a state that I hold dear in my heart. And, then you were raised partly in Lexington, Kentucky, and another beautiful, beautiful part of the country. And then you kind of settled in Ohio, and I’m just curious in moving between these different cities and your education where you definitely studied a lot of things. Like you went to university in Cincinnati for your master’s in architecture. I mean, what in your childhood made you want to go into architecture and construction? I mean, what did you dream of doing when you were a kid and how’d you end up studying in architecture.
Brian: I think the story that best encapsulates my career trajectory is that a lot of architects talk about how, when they were young, they really loved Legos. And that was definitely true for me, but I didn’t actually like to build things I like to taxonomize. So, I would figure out how many types of blocks I had. And then I would figure out how many different possible combinations there’d be of two blocks and then three blocks. So, really exciting childhood clearly. But, it kind of shows that there was an interest in taxonomy and, and process, you know, what is this system and how can we better understand the system of construction rather than the design and construction or the actor design and construction itself, which then kind of ended up playing out because as much as you know, architecture is my first love, I practiced for a while, but, ultimately I felt like the way to have systematic impact was to, was to go outside of the practice of architecture. I mean,
JAMES: So let’s talk about architecture for a second. Talk about an industry that’s undergoing some change. Right? And I feel like architects are presented sometimes with an impossible equation financially, because they’re asked to do so much for so little money. And nobody wants to pay for design revisions, it’s crazy. Honestly, I feel like it’s really common to all creative professions, you know, like graphic designers and branding specialist and it’s a tough deal because you’re asked to kind of work miracles and then not charge for it, and you get hit on your budget a lot. I mean, what’s the problem with architecture?
Brian: Oh man. wow. Where to start? I mean, I think that I spent time in that industry has kind of a design technologist, and we were always really focused on building these really intelligent tools. And after several years of that, it kind of became apparent that the only person’s job I was making easier was my own and maybe a few people around me, but those efficiencies didn’t really go beyond the scope of the contract. So I think first and foremost, it’s about examining the business practices themselves and the way the contracts are written. They’ve just been written in kind of the same way for a hundred years. So, you know, we hear about architects complaining about the capabilities of BIM, when really, I don’t think that has a lot to do with it. I think it has to do with the fundamental business structures. and there are reasons that it’s so tough, you know, liability is, is a big one, but if you’re going to go with design bid build, you’re going to have a flawed system. It’s just always going to be that way. You have to innovate on the business.
JAMES: Yeah. I mean you’re pretty much guaranteeing a controversy laden process through the initial contract to use, right? Yeah. And I remember when I was on city council in College Station, we moved to CM at risk for our city hall and the police station, that was an issue. And it took me years to get them across the line to leave the design bid build, you know, hard bid, low bid cycle. It was so successful. It was so successful, just changing the contracts, moving to CM at risk. We had two different CMs, one for the police station, one for city hall, big projects, right? I mean, $30, $40 million projects. And, came in, you know, on or ahead of schedule on or under budget. It’s been successful, but I had probably about a third of the contractors in town, threatening to sue the city and me because they had dialed their game in, you know what I mean? Like they had dialed their game in on winning with a low bid and then just turning the screws on change orders. And they were pissed off that we’re moving to CMAR because they knew they didn’t stand a chance at winning because they hadn’t invested in BIM or any kind of technology. That’s why it feels so tough when you’re trying to do any type of innovation in industry where there’s a lot of people who have designed business models around inefficiency controversy and, and just the general screwed upness, you know, is that they’re fighting against that actively.
Brian: That is the business. It already works the way people want it to. So when you go in and you talk about improvement, it’s improvement for a subset of the stakeholders and you can’t get alignment. Yeah. That is the fundamental problem of trying to introduce technology into this industry.
JAMES: You’re an adjunct, at City University of New York, city college you’re a visiting lecturer, City University of New York, you like to teach and I do too. You’re visiting professor of architecture for six years at Pratt Institute. So you obviously liked to teach. What’s your favorite thing about teaching and architecture? Like what your messaging to your students?
Brian: I’m done teaching for now. I’ve retired when I joined Boston dynamics, just not enough time, but I got into teaching originally because of the recession. So I graduated in 2009 and after my 50th rejection from an architecture firm, I started picking up teaching and working in academic labs. And, you know, first and foremost, it’s just always awesome to be with students who bring fresh ideas and fresh perspective and to kind of understand, or re-imagine the industry kind of through the lens of the uninitiated, which can be kind of a nice pushback as you get older and you kind of get set in your ways. And I think, secondly, it was the access to, things that at the time to a certain extent, still are a little bit, beyond where the industry is at with the ability to be using digital fabrication, robotics and design computation, and to test those ideas in that academic setting to have access to, you know, industrial arms that would normally be pretty difficult to have access to. So, you know, once I got the job at Boston dynamics, I had kind of converged my love of design and construction with my love of industrial automation and robotics, so in addition to the kind of time crunch, I just thought it was a good time to step away. And frankly, there were all of these younger professors coming in who had just incredible skills in gaming engines and augmented reality. And things that are really relevant right now, for the industry and especially with regards to the pandemic. So it was also just a good time to step aside and make room for others.
JAMES: Yeah. I, I just finished my fifth year of a five-year adjunct appointment at Texas A& M in construction science. I’m done at least for now. I love the department, you know, it was just those things are, I think, I think adjunct appointments are good to do for a time, and then you got to step away for a while and then come back with fresh eyes. You know what I mean? I spent a lot of time in the classroom over the last five years, just like you did, and, I love it. I mean, I love teaching. I love the process of learning, right, but you can get a little burnt out on it too and then you’re like, okay, I need to go and learn new skills. I have some new perspective to bring to students.
Brian: And I felt like I was kind of teaching on, you know, file to factory ideas that are, you know, they’re still relevant, but they, they felt rooted in like ideas from when I was in grad school. So I think it’s right. It’s like you got to spend some time away and then you’ll know when you’re ready to come back.
JAMES: Now, I’m going to talk about before we jump into to what exactly you do here, as they would say, office space. I have to talk about the two years and four months you spent at a company we have covered a lot on this show for not always the best reasons, largely an epic, IPO issue: WeWork, so you spent two years and four months in a very good group at WeWork as a senior construction automation researcher. WeWork is the largest office tenant in New York and London. They’re a major holding Masayoshi Son, over at SoftBank. SoftBank actually had really turned their finances around, by largely by divesting assets, but you know, WeWork is at a tough time, and it certainly when you have a business line that is predicated on people getting in close, dense proximity with each other and hanging out and open offices with no walls and open ventilation might not be the best time during a pandemic. And so we’ve seen some really interesting moves lately, but I, I want to talk about all the good things that went on at WeWork in particular around construction automation. So tell me, like, what’d you learn there? What’d you what’d you innovate there.
Brian: It was around the time I was on the design technology team, at Woods Bagot and was working on my last project there, and just feeling like there was kind of a cap on the impact you could have as an architect. And I had been watching, WeWork really closely, I had done my initial Revvit training at case, kind of BIM consultancy and kept hearing them talk about this place called WeWork and doing lots of innovative BIM work for them. And then they got acquired by WeWork. And then all of a sudden, every single design technologist, basically anyone who could code or do anything interesting technologically in ADC, you know, had been poached by them. And I just felt like this seems like an opportunity to test these ideas around, you know, what it would be like to operate in a vertically integrated company, and I have that level of control from end to end and, you know, It, there were ways in which we were really able to prove that out. And it was a really incredible time. in a lot of ways, the things we were doing there were at least a decade ahead of what I had seen at any other architecture engineering firm and probably will continue to be for some time. Now that those people are back out kind of into the industry, I think the whole sea level which rise, which is a good thing, but specifically, you know, I could really think about problems with my team from end to end. You know, there’s a lot of storefront, you know, interior glass partitions, the aluminum framing, in WeWork. So in the morning, you know, I could be working with software teams, developing automation tools that would do the layout, you know, in your design and environments. In the afternoon, I could go out to our prefabrication facility, and I could actually feed that information directly from the models into ERP systems, as well as into specialized CNC machines to produce those units. And then in the evening, I could go to a construction site where I was using robots to monitor progress and understand how to effectively lay out prefabricated and unitized elements in an existing commercial construction space. There was nowhere else on earth where it could have done that, you know, where I could have had that like typical workday and really, you know, see it from end to end, which also, you know, was extremely humbling. We had a lot of success and did some incredible things and found a lot of solutions, but, you know, time and time again there were instances of what I would say is a kind of lack of recognition of the intelligence that the trades bring to the construction process and kind of an inability of contemporary BIM and design systems to incorporate that feedback into the design model. So I think after I had really spent that time thinking about a fully integrated or vertically integrated environment and it kind of a linear design to delivery process, I started thinking about feedback and data capture programs and how to overcome those challenges. And ultimately that led me to start testing Spot in late 2018.
JAMES: So you really got into this as a, as a customer?
Brian: Yeah. We were using field lens. We had actually tested field lens with a number of mobile robotic solutions and other technologies. We were really trying to close the gap in data capture. We had acquired several general contractors worldwide and you know, not so shockingly there wasn’t a lot of data there to uncover. So it was kind of up to us to establish those capture programs. And a lot of it was being done manually by assistant superintendents, you know, it would be like the last and least important thing they would do in their shift when really they needed to be staging the site for the next day or making critical phone calls or just sweeping up and maintaining a safe environment, so it was a burden and there were huge gaps. You know we were a data-driven company. There shouldn’t have been gaps that large, so it was clear that there was need for a solution and after the failure of any thing, wheeled or treaded in a construction environment, you know, not being able to navigate stairs, getting stuck on an obstacle, not being able to deal with moving equipment or people. I saw a video where spot had been used on a Japanese construction site and around mid 2018. And, you know, first of all, it was just really irritated that we weren’t the first to test that. And then second of all, You know, got on the phone to figure out how we could do that. Because if you had asked me in 2017, if there was any reason to bring a four legged robot onto a job site, I probably would have dismissed it as out of hand, just because I thought that technology was so scifi at the time, but by the time 2018 rolled around, it actually seemed like a practical solution.
Buck: You know, I think it’s really interesting cause I knew Case was doing some of the most cutting edge work and design, period. Field lens was one of the most, up-and-coming open platform, construction, documented communication tools out there. It’s kind of a shame that when people look at a lot of that, it, it just kind of fell with WeWork. I mean, I look at a lot of companies out there right now that were, are trying to emulate what y’all had, the capabilities staff and people ready to do it. Like Katerra is kind of trying to do what y’all are doing. I mean, there are a lot of people that now are trying to tackle the same thing y’all were, but they just didn’t have the kind of business model that ended up not being as successful. So I think it’s kind of a shame that kind of ended up how it ended. But, I mean, during all that, that had to be an exciting timeWhat was the takeaway from working at WeWork or what was the most exciting thing that kind of came from that?
Brian: Number one, it just kind of proved to me that if you want to innovate, you have to rethink your business practice. So it was a pretty radical way to build buildings. Number two was the access to the things we built after we built them. We could actually use science and measure their effectiveness, talk to people about how effective the HVAC was, how comfortable they were thermally, if they liked the wallpaper or not. And we can learn from that in addition to other types of data we were pulling in, we could have that qualitative user interview data, and you’re just in the type of architecture and design work I was doing before. You’re several layers abstract in a way from the end user you’re working on speculative core and shell high rise, commercial space, you’ve got no idea who the tenant is going to be. And ultimately I have no idea if your product works or not. So that was the case mentality that was brought into WeWork was, you know, building as a product, and to continually refine and improve that and to adopt lean methods and agile methods to borrow from the software industry and do software development to borrow from the logistics manufacturing industries and to do logistics and manufacturing as part of the delivery process. It was really just everything all at once. And that said it was also admittedly bloated. There were, there were too many things going on. We were trying everything, but you have to remember at the time we were, every year we were doubling how much square footage we were delivering. Don’t think about any of the money. Just think about the sheer amount of construction we were doing. So what was projected, I guess at the time for 2020, before everything changed in many ways, was a number that we thought would be impossible to hit if we didn’t innovate. And also at that scale, if you can shave a penny off of the square foot, you’re still talking about a multimillion dollar return. So it also was uniquely motivating, and the way that we would approach research was is like any little bit helps, you know, how can we effectively, you know, improve the process.
Buck: So, which is kind of like, I mean the dream scenario, we’re always like, well, if you can get the owner to buy in. You know, you can find budget for it, or if you can talk to the person who experiences the reward and I’m sure that’s a conversation about spot is like, there’s a big value to this. It’s just who who’s the buyer. Right? I mean, do you find the GC or whoever that can find value and help their contract, I think that’s kind of the end game on all construction technology. So that’s super interesting.
JAMES: Let’s talk about robots now. I wanted to have this conversation. You’ve had a fascinating career and, you know, educationally in teaching and then WeWork and all this other stuff. You started as a customer of Boston dynamics, and then you jump in as a team member and you’re leading the construction practice area. Cause there’s, there’s a lot of applications for robotics, right? I mean, yes, Boston dynamics is not just for construction. There’s implications all over the place. Military of course, I’m sure the department of defense is salivating over all the advancements that you’ve made and there’s probably a bunch of things you can’t talk about in that area. The intelligence community is going to be really interested in it, industrial communities, mining, vertical construction, horizontal construction. The list goes on and on and on of the industries that really need some really good general purpose robots that can walk around on their own carry things around and perform repetitive tasks.
Brian: And having a mobile sensor that, that you can send into a place that’s, that’s dangerous for a human as well is huge. Especially if you look at our kind of power customers, our energy customers or nuclear customers.
JAMES: Why would you send a human into inspect anything in a dangerous place when you can literally send Spot in? And, if you’ve already sent spot in there before it can go in and autonomously and follow the same path and have collision avoidance, and if you haven’t sinned spot and you can control it remotely, and guide this robot, that’s really robust, and remote control robots are fine until your robot gets knocked over. Some of the early videos that we’ve seen that I played in a lot of my speeches, Brian, I need to be honest. Cause what I would jokingly say to the audiences, these are the videos our robotic overlords are gonna play to us when they imprison us one day, because it was your team kicking the robot, and it looked like a dog, and so Peter got all up in arms and everybody’s like, Oh, don’t kick the robot dog. You were just trying to demonstrate that this is a really robust platform, that it’s hard to knock over it. And in the construction job site, that’s a big deal. And there’s a problem with wield or tracked drones. And by the way, the implications for the space exploration business for spot are just like ridiculous, right? I mean, how much effort went into designing rovers that don’t get stuck?
Brian: That’s actually a good example of why it’s so important to build robots that when you’re looking at autonomous applications or sending a robot into a remote or dangerous environment, like an oil rig that might not be continuously manned, it has to be able to keep working, if the Mars Rover fails it instantly turns into space garbage and, you know, multimillion or billion dollars of garbage at that. So, you know, we try to be really practical about what spot’s going to be exposed to. And in the way we talk about it, you know, I talked to customers I’m like spot falls down less and less every day with, you know, behavior improvements and technology improvements, but it will fall down, and that’s okay. It’s built to fall down and it’s built to get itself back up. We don’t try to ignore the hardest problems. We start with the hardest problems.
JAMES: Can it get back up if it’s tortoised? Like if it’s turtle shelled?
Brian: Yeah. It does this like funny thing where it like stretches one leg, like all the way back to kind of prop itself, and then it uses its elbow on the other side and then it flips over. It’s really cool.
JAMES: That is amazing.
Brian: The part that scares people the most, I think, cause it’s just the weirdest looking behavior of the robot.
JAMES: Well, put the snake head on it really scared Jim again, I’ll have another week of nightmares. That’s what’s exciting to me is that you don’t think about a construction site as training ground for space, but it is, you have a highly dynamic environment that’s very dangerous, right? It’s got a lot of changing and moving parts. I mean, Yeah. Have you guys been in touch with the Elon? Is space X going to ship this thing on their rocket ship to Mars?
Brian: Our chairman Mark actually mentioned in a piece the other day, some of the work we’ve done with a space X as a customer, you know, primarily around launchpad operations, it’s really hard to safely get eyes in there because there are a lot of explosive gases. And obviously the rocket itself launching creates a lot of heat and bright light and flames, so the ability to have a mobile robot in that area to capture data, to sniff out or detect failures before a remote human observer can is, is hugely valuable. And then of course, you know, there are these potential, space applications, but I think what you said about construction as a training ground for space, because what I love the most about spot for construction is just the construction sites are the most difficult sites for robotics and autonomy. Essentially, your construction environments are kind of a lens by which we can evaluate the success of our autonomous systems. And if it can work on a construction site, there’s a really good chance that it’s going to work a lot easier anywhere else.
Buck: I think to piggyback on that, when we were planning for this, I was thinking about it and I’ve seen spot at AU and I think we just thought it’s always kind of been remote controlled. I mean, job sites are probably the most challenging environment. I mean, when you go to them, there are vertical shafts that could be changing. I mean we’re going vertical. So there are new spaces being created. There’s bracing. I mean, literally it changes day by day and is being added on as you go. Where are we in that process of being fully autonomous, as opposed to needing direction, day by day, and are there predefined workflows that y’all have right now that your clients are using, or is this kind of a fact finding mission? Cause I, I was the project solutions manager. I would have geeked out, I would have loved this and I would have tried to find different things for it, but where are we in the scope of deployment?
Brian: I think we’re kind of in an exciting time where we’re kind of transitioning from speaking exclusively with, with innovation groups and early adopters and trying to, you know, across the chasms, so to speak to operationalize these robots. I think the construction industry needs a little bit more time for that maturity just to be transparent and honest, because it is a more challenging environment, but just to give you a sense of how autonomy works in these sites is the customers use the default tablet software. We provide, Android JXD controller with every robot that looks like a little game pad. It’s got physical joysticks. You can walk a Spot throughout a site and record its path. You can also use touch to go, which just uses the kind of camera vision of the robot. And you just say, you know, I want you to walk over to the other end of the room instead of joysticking it over, and just using that to more intelligently guide the robot, and then you can record different actions and that action could be like a data capture action, like remotely triggering a laser scanner or a 360 camera, or that action could be something on the software that uploads data to the cloud, or you can make the robot do a little dance. You know, there’s all sorts of stuff you could do. All of that gets recorded into a mission file. And then that mission file can be replayed autonomously in subsequent runs. So for example, if you’re trying to do kind of a nightly sitewalk, you can now replay that and that will happen autonomously without you touching anything. And the robot will walk through. It’ll hit all those same locations and it will find those data capture points while also exhibiting obstacle avoidance. If something’s 30 centimeters lower spot will step up over top of it, so don’t leave a pile of light bulbs standing around, for example, and if it’s, if it’s taller than that spot will kind of move to the left or to the right of that obstacle. Now. There are some limitations there, especially as regards, safety and kind of concept of operations. So for example, if you have parked, like scissor lift long ways across the intended path of the robot, that means it has to move like at least a couple of meters to one side or the other, and you may not have wanted that. You know, there’s a reason you programmed it to walk along a particular corridor. You’re now kind of outside of that safe corridor. So the robot will ping you through the controller and it’ll say, Hey. I’m not super comfortable doing this myself, will you please manually pilot me around this? And then you do that, you get it back kind of on its attended path and then it can continue on autonomously. The other thing that you have to realize about a construction site is like, yes, you want to take the same, you know, 30 photos or 30 scans each night for progress tracking, but inevitably somebody going to like leave a pallet of tiles, and there’s glue setting, you know, in the bathroom and Spot can’t walk through there that night. That’s okay. We understand that we’re building in features that say, Hey, I can’t get to this data capture way point. Do you want me to just try to take a photo from here? You know, get as close as I can, or do you want me to just skip it and move on to the next one. So it’s not the autonomy that I think is so valuable. Although obviously it is it’s, it’s the flexibility we provide because we’re being realistic about what it’s like to navigate a job site. Moving into the outdoors, we’re starting to see other modes for autonomy. So we’ve been working with Trimble. We have a strategic partnership with them. They’ve actually started adding their GNSS receivers onto the robot. Now you don’t have to explicitly pilot and record emission. Now you’re just plugging in GPS coordinates and the robot is off to the races, so that’s an exciting new development and. I’m curious to see how else customers are getting a spot in kind of these exterior and civil construction environments.
Buck: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s super cool. So as far as the partnership with Trimble, is there any day we’re down the road, we’re going to actually see this robot putting the stakes out or doing layout I just see that for a civil contractor. I mean, if you could have a spot go out and walk around a big civil project dropping stakes, who wouldn’t buy one.
Brian: I think that’s, I think that’s where a lot of customers’ minds go. So to be clear, we’re starting with laser scanning with our X -7 scanner, and we’re starting with GNSS for the GPS navigation. Those are technologies that work today. We have early adopters and then we’re refining them and we’ll have like a fully integrated product for exclusive resale by Trimble in, in quarter one. The layout stuff, I mean, you talked with Tessa, in dusty robotics, it’s a very difficult problem to automate. I think they’re doing a great job. you know, we’re thinking about it, the capabilities of a total station, plus the robot do open up a lot of avenues. You know, you could imagine the robot as, as either the total station or as the prism pole, you know, you could imagine using that technology to more accurately position the robot, maybe for things that you’re manipulating with the arm, and certainly exploring layout applications as well. But I like to be clear about where we’re at. And so right now, Scanning and GNSS ready to go. It works. You can use it as a customer today. The layout and total station technologies are still very much in kind of an R and D mode, but you know, I’ve been impressed by how quickly we move, so ask me again in Q2. We’ll see where we’re at.
Buck: No, and that’s huge. I think, I think that’s the biggest thing. And that’s what I was hoping to get here is, is once you tell someone in construction, we can do this. If you can’t do that and they spend 75 grand it’ll never happen again. Right? I mean, once you get budget and you come back and it doesn’t work, you get burned and that never happens again.
JAMES: You only get one shot, do not lose your chance. Oh, sorry, I was just quoting some Eminem
Buck: I mean, I think that was what you’re doing. Is more than enough to rationalize what the cost is and everything around that. I mean, automating, scanning on a sole project is a no brainer.
JAMES: So what’s so cool to me is that you have a DJI and drone deploy, just killing it on aerial applications, right? Like DJI rolls out the DJI pro for version 2.0 with onboard RTK, which gives you just ridiculously precise positioning. So you can get survey grade accuracy. I put air quotes cause I haven’t tested myself the RTK cause I own like every Phantom ever made, I have seven of them and I love all of them. They’re great devices. I have the one, two, three, four, the Mavic pro you know and they’re just amazing. It works in the air because collision avoidance and positioning and all that stuff, it’s a little bit easier when you’re floating through the air. I mean, it really is. And, in, in many regards, on the ground, man, it gets dicey and, what what’s so cool is that you’re partnering with the drone providers and drone application companies, so you get this partnership with drone deploy, right. Where you’re essentially creating like a unified scan of the site, so you can eventually you can get like one unified aerial plus terrestrial view of the job. Is that, is that the vision?
Brian: Yeah, absolutely. And we, yeah, we worked with Brasfield and Gorrie kind of on the, on the GC side. And then we worked with drone deploy and their engineers. And, you know, it was when they were first thinking of their 360 walkthrough feature, which they announced, you know, a month or two ago at their, at their annual conference. And this one was really exciting to me because we were approaching end users that already had rigorous data capture programs, right. We weren’t starting from scratch. So that was part of the pleasure of working with the team at Brasfield and Gorrie, but they still had this business problem that needed solving, which is better project tracking and doors. And ideally in one consolidated environment, drones are hugely capable, you know, for all the reasons you described for the exterior data capture, you know my boss, Michael Perry, our VP of business development actually came from DJI and the drone industry. There are a lot of lessons to learn there. You know, there aren’t really that many successful robotics companies, especially in construction, but, but you know, DJI and other drone companies are a great example. So, the question was, how do we compliment that? And then how does drone deploy provide a common data environment for everything you bring in? So I think in drone deploys his mind, you know, they don’t care what the customer uses. They want to be agnostic to that. You know, they just want to provide support for any type of robot. Whether it’s aerial or terrestrial, they call spot a terrestrial drone, which I think is cute. What do you call it again?
JAMES: The snake headed remote dog.
Brian: You know, I call it a quadruped with a telemanipulator.
JAMES: I liked to name things in general and so let’s add snake headed, automated robot dog, so we can call it the shard. Okay so forget spot. It’s the Shard: snake headed automated robot dog. I mean, but it is a terrestrial drone. I mean, you think about it. Like my Phantom four pro has automated collision avoidance and rerouting. Right? You can map a path and it will fly it every time and avoid obstacles. It’ll scan it. You know, you put onboard RTK, you’re going to get survey grade accuracy. You can put FLIR, I’ve seen, I’ve seen FLIR bolted on the drones. You can bolt a lot of accessories onto those drones. So it’s cool that we’re there in drones, right? And now, and this is, you can call it a robot, a drone. I mean, you JAMES: can, you can interchangeably use those words a lot in a lot of different things. I mean, because of any kind of automated system, you could just roll it all up to mechatronics if you want to really get high level, I mean, there’s a lot of things you could call it. Well, let’s talk about the use cases right now because you know, the hardcore builder listeners that my analytical folks that listen to the show are going okay, what can I legitimately use it for this second? That’s not R and D, it’s not pending release. It’s not early announcement or early release. You can remotely control the robot. You can, you can remotely control spot. You can bolt the laser scanner on. You can tell it to go on a path and it’ll follow the path over and over again, without you controlling the remote and it’ll avoid collisions, it can climb up and down stairs, it can perform laser scans. Is that all correct?
Brian: Yeah, that’s good. And I like to, you know, for the uninitiated, I like to first go over these are the modes of operation, and then these are the use cases we’re seeing any construction. So, you know, the modes of operation are, you can be right there, you know, basically remote, controlling the robot, you know, sometimes that’s useful. You can record missions and play them back autonomously where the robot is doing everything itself. And you’re just monitoring that from afar. You can be monitoring that from across the job site or from across the world, depending on your communication setup. You know, there are many different modes to kind of network spot, to allow for that remote capability. You know, the remote operation and the autonomy can also be combined. So for example, you were joking earlier about putting a, you know, an iPad on spot and going into the office. I was literally doing that at the beginning of the pandemic to have meetings with my colleagues. And then I also realized that while I was remotely operating the robot in Boston, from New York, I could also be recording and monitoring autonomous missions, so you can kind of mix and match the remote or tele operational capabilities with the autonomy. And that just suits a variety of kind of use cases for our customers in different industries. When you get down to what people are actually doing with it on construction sites, it is they’re focusing right now on data capture and that data capture is typically for site progress monitoring for better management of their job sites. And it’s being done with two primary types of data. One is 360 photos and or 360 video. And the other is laser scanning. On the side of the 360 images, we have a camera that we actually sell called the spot cam, but we also have compatibility with what construction customers already have. So you can pop a Ricoh theta onto a robot. you can program that to go through and do your job walk and take those photos, download it to the tablet, and you’re good to go. It’ll even give you metadata about the location of those photos. If you want to, you know, create custom apps or you’re already using something; you’re a hollow builder customer or drone deploy customer, well we have integrations for that. So you send the robot on the mission and it handles the upload of that data and the contextualization. Of that data, you know, relative to a floor plan. and we hope to have many more integrations. Our SDK gets easier and easier to use with each new software release, which is going to make it easier for developers to kind of take that on and provide that to their customers. And that is what our customers want. There are a lot of effective applications out there right now. They want the robot to work with them. And then on the side of laser scanning, laser scanning is just a really painful process, both the data capture side and the post-processing that’s required. So on the capture side, it’s automated, that’s a no brainer, so you don’t have to move a tripod around and, you know, hide behind a tool box while you play candy crush and wait eight minutes for your high-risk scan to appear, and so the robot can handle all of that for you, but you can also get some intelligent data off the robot, you know, especially if your scanner doesn’t already have an IMU, you can pull again the robot data about location and orientation and get your point clouds pre-positioned in a better way that will speed up the registration process.
JAMES: That’s awesome. And what a great starting point, right? Cause that’s really what this is. It’s a starting point for future robotics and automation
Buck: The scanning side I completely see being huge, that was one of my questions that I was going to ask is the SDK and how well y’all make it to integrate. Cause DJI has been extremely successful. and I think the number one reason has been their SDK. I like being able to easily integrate. With their hardware and software has made it to where they’ve just blown up on apps, but the scanning side is really interesting. Exactly what you said: automatically being able to locate the scans and not be mundane. I mean, I think I spent probably months of my life. Walking down a hallway, trying to make scans every 30 feet or 20 feet to make sure I didn’t miss anything because I had to go back to the trailer and spend two days processing scans that hopefully I didn’t have to go back out under the same conditions and find the spot that I missed, only to have to do it again, so being able to go out there with high level of density and not have to worry about wasting two days to get a hallway or a corridor for a renovation project is huge. Especially with them already located. I know you aren’t selling scanners. I know that you aren’t selling kind of DGI sells the base of the cam models and cameras and whatnot. I know you’re partnering with Trimble. Do y’all see opening up and potentially selling products like Farrow Trimble and other things, third party on your store, and kind of already having those integrations, or is this something you’re going to just make easy for the companies to integrate in. Where do you see that going? Because there’s so many sensors out there and kind of making it turnkey for the customer, or are you just going to make it easy as hell for those companies like Vero and other companies to just integrate in it’s already kind of set up, so they can quickly make that change over.
Brian: I think the answer is a little bit both. And you mentioned, you know, when you’re going around and when you’re even in the notion of planning, the scans, you know, walking the site and being nervous about, you know, Oh, if I miss this gap here, I’m not going to register this cloud or I’m going to have a shadow or a gap in that. And, you know, we recognize that as an issue, so you can set an origin on your site with a robot relative to control points relative to some BIM project origin you can go through and do your autonomous mission with the confidence that if you do have a patch that you missed, that’s no problem. The robot knows where it was. Go back out to that blind spot. Now tell now switch over from autonomous to tele op or drive mode and just go over there and find that gap, scan it. And it’s going to come in preposition to exactly the right spot. So that’s an example again, where it’s like, yes, we want repeatability and autonomy. But practically, we also need flexibility. You’re just gonna forget a spot when you program that route, as for what we’re doing about the ecosystem in the marketplace, you know, step one was we privileged building a really nice SDK, so any scanner or any device that has an API, you know, can be autonomously triggered through spot, so have at it, knock yourself out. If you’re an engineer, you can do what you need to do. But for the rest of the end users who are just trying to operationalize the robot, we knew it was really important that they don’t necessarily care that this is a cool robot, right? They’re not like I want to buy an experimental four legged robot. No, they’re like, I have a business problem I need to solve and I want to buy a really effective piece of equipment. And that was really kind of in the spirit of the integrated solution exclusivity part of the Trimble agreement, which is now what’s happening is, in early 2021, you are going to be able to go to Trimble and you’re going to be able to say, I want the scanning robot and they both give you spot. They’ll give you the X-7 scanner. They’ll give you the quick Mount that snaps onto it, you know, all the requisite software will be preloaded. You can use the same Trimble X– 10 ruggedized tablet that you already have, you can control spot, not through our software, but directly through the Trimble field link software. I think that’s been the spirit behind some of our other integrations too. Like when we set off to do the first line in the construction industry with hollow builder, it was like, I cannot introduce friction to my customer. You know, if they’re a hollow builder customer, they should just turn on their phone, launch hollow builder and drive the robot from the same environment they’ve always been in. If they’re in the field with their Trimble equipment, they should use the same thing to drive the robot that they were already using to run their other surveying instruments, and through the SDK, we’ve been able to achieve that and that’s providing kind of a, a better experience for those customers.
Buck: So I have one question though, and I’m sure you’ve probably gotten this so you go out and buy a scanner and then you buy a robot and I know spot can roll over and it can get back up. Laser scanners are not as easy to get back up. If they flip and fall, it’s a different level of we don’t get back up and everything’s well, is there any safe mode or be careful mode with Spot to make sure that we’re not being risky with a $75,000 laser scanner?
JAMES: I think the default mode’s probably be careful mode
Brian: That is a very fair question. And there are many answers to that. And, first of all, don’t try this at home, but you’d be surprised by how rugged those scanners are. You know, says the person who’s accidentally dropped a few and I’ve crashed the robot. It’s partially the technology. So we do have features that, you know, you want it to be more stable, put it in crawl mode. Now it’s got three legs on the ground at all times. you want it to be more careful, reduce its speed, but it’s also about how you operate a robot and we have this conversation with customers. Hey, if you don’t want to wreck your scanner, you know, maybe try to take spot through the least challenging part of the site, notify others onsite that it’s coming. But the nice thing about the Trimble Mount too, is it’s a quick release. If you don’t want to risk taking that up a staircase, and you’re just nervous about that, it can do that, but if you don’t want it to do that fine, just like it takes one second to like release the lever, you’ve got a little handle on there. Just pop it off, go into to the tablet, you know, tell the robot that you took it off, it adjusts, its dynamics goes up the stairs and then you follow it up not to back on, but obviously for the autonomous applications, you don’t want to have to be there to intervene, so in that case, you build protection. That’s another way to deal with this. and the, the tricky things about optical sensors is you don’t want to visually occlude those with like a roll cage. So with like fixed cameras and things like that. You know, you can put a roll cage on that. That doesn’t include the image. We’ll do like a little single bar around the Ricoh theta. That’s just right at the perfect area where the images stitch overlap so you can’t see it. But for things like a scanner that are, you know, shooting lasers omnidirectionally, you can just use outrigging. So the idea is that you, you kind of have these, these poles that, that stick out at either the base or at the top of the scanner is such that if the robot does fall over, that outrigging is going to take the brunt of the impact rather than the instrument. That’s been really successful for some of our customers. The nice thing about that too, is, we have automatic, rollover behavior. So, so you don’t have to physically flip the robot over to switch out the battery which is in the belly, so you can tell it to roll over and then we’ll rest on that. Outrigging rather than the sensor itself
JAMES: Spot rollover, woof
Brian: And there are people working on voice control too. So we’ll see.
JAMES: I would expect that. So let’s, so let’s wrap it up. unfortunately I could go on another hour talking about this but we can’t. So just one last question for you. What’s the future look like for spot? Like what, what’s the long-term vision for spot and for Boston dynamics with the construction industry?
Brian: The end game for me is so to speak is first and foremost, making this operational so that the people coming to me to buy the robot aren’t R and D or innovation groups, they’re the end users who see the value. And the way that we provide that value is by giving them easy out of the box solutions, both by improving our own software. And by continuing this partnership with, with Trimble, for example, that’s specific to that construction market, and then I think for me, the real game changer is the dock that’s coming out in 2021. So at the moment, the most practical limit on the autonomy is the fact that the user has to intervene once every 90 minutes to switch out a battery. you can hot swap it. There are ways to do that don’t interrupt the work, but you’re still intervening. So it disrupts the autonomy argument, with a self-charging doc, you can now program missions where when that battery gets low, the robot knows to return to that area charge up and then to continue on and finish the work, but even more crucial than having, now in theory, the missions are limitless, but now you also have an always on robot that is just sitting on that dock, waiting for you to take control and look at whatever you need to look at, no matter where you are. That that to me is the future. So then you get in a situation where, you know, It could be the end of the day, you could run a kind of lights out robot shift, and you do all of your data capture and you do all of your data analysis. And what that does is that stages the site for the next day, that gives the reports and instructions for all the crews coming in that make sure that, you know, the crew that comes in can actually do their work properly with the sequencing. Now you have this symbiotic kind of human robot relationship on these job sites where, you know, the people will only be necessary in these complex environments. This isn’t a factory or a logistics space. This is a construction site and they’re going to do the work. And that work is going to be so much more efficient because of the work that the robot did at autonomously overnight that’s, that’s where I want to see us go. And I think we’re quickly moving in that direction.
JAMES: Awesome. Well, thank you for your time today and just stick around for the news. We’ve got a few new stories we love to talk about with you, but absolutely awesome things going on at Boston dynamics and spot. Go check out their website, bostondynamics.com check that out for more information on spot or as we call it the Shard, the snake headed automated robot dog. No, I’m just kidding. we love it, spot’ s a perfect name for it.
We are back with our top news stories. Buck, what do you got this week?
Buck: All right. First thing up I have from Construction Dive is Virgin Hyperloop successfully tests human travel. this is awesome.
JAMES: Awesome, and the most anticlimactic video ever
Buck: It is, I actually saw before I read this. I saw the BIM wanted posted that video of the designer, the guy who’s doing the interior seating and designs on it, and it was super cool because he was actually talking about, how do you design seating on something that’s brand new, right? Like you can’t make it like a train because it’s not a train, right? It’s moving close to 400 to 600 miles an hour. It needs to look different. It’s a new experience. And like, you need to make it look different. I don’t know if I would have sent the CTO in the first one. The guy went 107 miles an hour and two seconds which is really exciting. I think this technology longterm one day, there’s a lot that has to happen, it really will interconnect our country, the world, and make everything happen faster, you know, being able to get from city to city in 30 to 45 minutes really changes the dynamic of the country, James. I mean, you gotta cause it’s pretty cool.
JAMES: Well, it’s, it’s also going to be a very interesting construction project, and so I think that’s the news for the, construction listeners here is, this is not going to be like rail construction, you’re building tubes all over, hopefully if it works the way they say it will, all over the country, where you’ll, you’ll travel at a at jet speeds or faster, at a tiny, tiny fraction of the cost for transit, but a huge cost in construction, because, building a rail is different than building a vacuum tube, and so I think that’s the big, the big challenge, right?
Buck: It, it is, you know, the only problem, anytime I see something like this, cause I geek out on this, like I’m super pumped about the Hyperloop is I’ve driven across the country and I have seen our bridges and roads and we got a lot of things to take care of before we start putting underground Hyperloops and I think that’s coming, but this is really, really exciting. I mean, the potential of having these underground, Hyperloops going from city to city and really kind of expanding the country to the fact that you don’t have to live in. LA to work in LA, you don’t have to be live in New York or Brooklyn to be in Brooklyn. You know, you can really kind of expand the country, without having to have the density or have different cities and the cost of living in places, and it really opens up a lot of possibilities. Next up, and I know this is kind of highly debated. I have a completely different take and I think this article was pretty interesting and Forbes was How are digital twins used in practice five real world examples beyond manufacturing. I know in architecture and construction, a lot of people joke and laugh that digital twins aren’t real, they’re kind of a unicorn. I’ve worked on projects and I work with owners that are actually doing this and that have invested in software companies like Microsoft that have their own digital twin product that is live and up and running.
This article was pretty interesting though, talking about one of the first concept of digital twins and it’s kind of different than what we call an architecture was NASA on Apollo 13. I think this article is interesting, and if anyone wants to take a look at I think we do this sometimes in an architecture and construction and, you know, Brian, I’m sure y’all were doing this, that WeWork is, is creating a physical route or model replica of what you’re going to build in the real world to actually put simulations through it. And I, and I think. I’ve been frustrated a little bit in our industry because people just kind of laugh it off and know it’s not going to happen and know there’s no point in it. No one’s doing it. But I think when we do that, we take away a lot of the potential value of people are building city models and the value of city development. And when people build architects build designs, they do simulation energy. And, and, you know, there are lots of different reasons for this outside of just the facility model, where people pump in all the different construction data. That’s not necessarily the value to it. But going through here and look at some of these reasons, I mean the energy sector with the digital wind farms. And hospitality, which, you know, a lot of people use to try to figure out how to build hospitals better, you know, for nurses having minimal steps to their patients. I think the industry as a whole should kind of less call them unicorns and focus on the practical applications and how we can use these in construction to do better, and that’s kind of what the takeaway from this article.
JAMES: I’d love to hear Brian’s feedback in particular on digital twins, considering the role that spot’s going to play on this
Brian: Yeah, I think it’s real. It’s hard and it’s like AI, right? Where people talk about it so generally as to kind of lose its meaning, but you know, the core tenants of being able to have virtual to physical fidelity, adding in IOT sensor information as additional dimensions, adding in the dimension of time. And then the ability to run simulations in those environments. Those are all very real technologies. And we’re super interested in that we have a mobile sensor, you know, that could be controlled from them or whatever your digital analog is and could also be feeding back any information into that. You know, our customer at Carbonite is doing this. They’re doing this for the energy sector. This stuff is real. And it’s just a question of course, of how we can integrate it into the construction industry. Foster and partners, the global architecture firm, recently released a piece, I think it was just yesterday on digital twins and the work they’re doing with spot to help them achieve those goals. So, yeah, I think, I think we throw the term around a bit loosely, but, but I think this is serious technology that, that is eminently achievable.
Buck: Final story. And I know that we had an election. I think some people think is going on. Some people think it’s over, but this article came to us from construction dive what’s in store for contractors under a Biden presidency. A lot of what’s going on here is there’s a proposed $2 trillion economic, infrastructure bill. And, like a lot of things, I think there’s not much specification to it. You probably know a little bit more about this, cause I’m sure you’ve dug in knowing, the depth at which you read into this stuff, but you know, we’ve kind of heard about these infrastructure spending bills continuously for 12 years. I just, I don’t think there’s really been much investment in infrastructure. I think that’s been a headache on my end. I mean, other than the big airport projects and a couple of highway projects, I don’t. I’ve just never seen a whole lot going on.
JAMES: You hear like we’re going to invest in infrastructure, and then you’re like, where? But so much stuff it’s hard to notice. Right? I mean it’s incremental and I think that’s always a hallmark. what I do know is that the state of Texas has much better highways than my home state of Louisiana. I know that, I can observe that. Like literally you cross the bridge into Louisiana and you notice. You can notice infrastructure when it stark like that, but you know, who knows? I think one of the best things for the country right now will be a split government. It would be ideal if they didn’t mess with things too much and let us just work. That’s my goal. And I’m on the I’m on the capitalism party, right? Like, let us work, try and make some money and get our kids through school and get some things done. I have a hard time seeing differences and the infrastructure spending between different parties and presidents. It’s hard to really notice. It is.
Buck: And, you know, I think there’s another article in here saying that construction starts are up 4%. you know, we have a lot of inbox. We have a lot of construction clients and to be honest, not many of them have seen a big hit with COVID. Going into this, they had two and three-year backlogs, and those projects are still moving forward, construction sites haven’t shut down in most areas, so construction has a little bit more endurance.
JAMES: It’s when the backlog runs out that is when the trouble really hits. And look we didn’t see the 2008 downturn really impact construction until 2009 and 2010. And then it got really bad. I mean, because the backlog ran out and right now we are seeing backlogs come down. We are seeing, you know, the billing index for AIA come down, you know, we’ve seen early indications of that, and that’s why I’ve told people now is the time to improve your technology. Now is the time to get your operations in order, you know, and to try and drive more profitability. Cause you’re going to have lower volume in the next two years. I don’t see any way around it, and so you’re going to have to figure out how to drive higher profit on lower volume.
Buck: You know, what will be kind of interesting though with the immigration going on, how the labor unions take that. And another, there’s a big part of that here. and I think that’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next coming months.
JAMES: Well, I’ve got the usual CE tech rundown because Marla MacIntyre does a great job summarizing everything that’s going on. Now, I want to start by just covering the news that Brian shared with us, you know, foster partners has collaborated with Boston dynamics to monitor construction progress with spots. That’s a pretty big deal, and that, that came out where they’re using their applied research and development group. Their, ARD group is working on this and that was pretty newsworthy. And then you get another press release that you’re expanding global sales of spot. So you’re now moving into the EU, United Kingdom, and Canada which is a super exciting to see that. And, and then we covered the drone deploy teaming with Boston dynamics, and with Trimble and Boston dynamics. So we’ve, we’ve covered those news. I just want to mention, before I start on the other news releases. that there’s been some really, really good updates coming out of Boston dynamics in this regard, and also the spot released 2.1, which is, automating image, collection workflows, et cetera. Brian, anything else to comment on the, on the 2.1 release on software?
Brian: Yeah, it’s just. You know, I just want to give a lot of credit to our software developers for listening to our end users and just making things easier and easier that the goal is that you don’t have to be a roboticist or an engineer to use this technology, that you can just get this controller in your hands and get a job done. And if that job is just downloading images to a tablet, great. If you need to do something more sophisticated, we can help with that too, then there’s a lot packed in there that I think your listeners will care about with respect to having a user origin with coordinating data capture locations. Two control points, BIM origins, contextualizing that data in, in floor plans and automating that step. Cause those are the little steps that you, that you look over that are actually the really critical steps in automating a full workflow. So we don’t just want to automate the data capture. We want to get that data contextualized in your various platforms where it needs to be to be useful.
JAMES: Awesome. Thank you for that update. I’m excited to see more software updates from your team in the future, in the area of apps and other software updates. And again, this is construction executive tech Zurich North America has the construction solutions app that allows workers to report dangerous conditions on job sites. So pretty cool to see insurers continue to pile into the technology game in construction. Hello, Alfred is a mobile app that connects tenants with, in-home assistance and handyman services, they have a basic tech package and resident engagement platform. It’s free to property managers. That’s pretty cool.
Raken has a checklist, documents, a safe safety and quality measures as users choose from select and go checklists. So you can get your checklist done with Raken. Earth cams stream cam 5g has 4k streaming, 10 megapixel photography built in video recorder for 120 days. Continuous recording. And 5g, which is super cool to see earth cam continuing to upgrade all their technology on their 5g. They’ve got some really, really cool stuff on their cameras. Outside of that, drone deploys, 360 walkthrough works with drones, arial cameras, and any on the ground, 360 cameras, handheld or robotic. Notice that we talked about that with Brian, for comprehensive digital reconstruction of any job site. So it’s a full digital reconstruction. I’ve been calling it job site DVR for quite some time. Now. they have vertical flight that provides autonomous flight templates for multi-story buildings. So you can plan vertical flight plans and horizontal flight plans. Pretty cool. Bosch came out with a blue hound.
That’s right. The Bluetooth tag based asset management system from Bosch, you’re seeing more tool companies piling in. project manager.com helps construction teams plan project collaborates in real-time project, including scheduling, reports, dashboards, and more. This is another entry into the construction project management. Paya has an integrated payment platform InEight, has document UI. That’s a capture review and management and distribution of project documents, so pretty neat tool from inEight. Honeywell has a suite of connected life safety services for, integrators and facility managers.
Vector solutions has acquired live safe. That’s real time, mobile risk prevention that Vector solutions acquired. And of we already mentioned that Trimble and Boston dynamics, integrated construction, data collection technologies, Unanet is a project-based ERP software for government contracting.
They acquired Cosential. Now Cosential has been the number one construction CRM tool on every year of our survey, and this is a, this is a big deal. So this is a project-based ERP acquired the number one CRM in the construction sector. That’ll bring BizDev proposal management, project management, finance to the AC community in unanet.
Nialli and Unified Works collaborated on Nialli visual planner, that’s pretty cool visual planning tool for construction. So there’s a lot of news in the news, of course, people are busy, busy, innovating, and deploying technology. And of course, where we are particularly excited to have seen the innovations coming out of Boston dynamics, Brian, it has been a real pleasure to have you on the show. I’m glad we finally got to talk to somebody about Jim Greenlee’s nightmare. Robotic, headed, automated dog. And, and we are fired up about the future of spot and everything that y’all done at Boston dynamics. And of course, I want to see spot on Mars, walking around and, scanning and grabbing things and taking soil samples. I mean, I’m excited to see where Boston dynamics goes. So thanks for coming on the show today.
Brian: Thank you so much.
JAMES: And, Buck Davis as always brother. Good to see you.
Buck: Hey, man. Good to see you.
JAMES: And for all you out there and listener land, thank you for tuning in today to geek out to episode 244. Our interview with Brian Ringley from Boston dynamics. He’s the robot ringmaster. Please join us next week, episode 245, our monthly talk to the crew live to read all of our news stories.
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