Affordable Robots Could Reshape Reality Capture in Construction

Construction robots at work

Drones are now in the mainstream of reality capture on construction sites. In interior construction, hard hat cameras and human-operated laser scanners are still the best way to collect accurate data. Quadrupled robots could be an alternative, but in many cases, they are considered too expensive. That may change soon, as both robots with upgraded hardware and AI-powered software are becoming accessible even to consumers.

An example of a very capable consumer-grade robot is Unitree Go2 which performs better than industrial robots a few years back. What makes Go2 extra interesting is its price tag, starting at $1600.

A capable robot

A marketing video shows the robot can do acrobatic moves and walk agilely in a demanding terrain. The robot has WiFi6, Bluetooth, and 4G connectivity, with two to four hours of battery life. It can carry a 7-8 kg payload, and you can add an arm and censoring devices for extended functionality.

There’s a mobile app for controlling the robot and monitoring its movements in a 3D-scanned environment.

For the robotic programmers out there: according to the Génération ROBOTS blog, the robotic platform is compatible with ROS and RO2 and can be programmed with C/C++. Programmers have access to the DDS, ROS2, and GStreamer SDKs.

A promo photo of Unitree Go2

A game changer?

Compared to the $100,000 industrial-grade quadruped robots, Go2 could be a game-changer. If you can get a robot for data collection and reality capture for under $10,000, a large construction site could afford to have many of them. Provided, of course, that the robot would be capable of autonomous operation and could reliably withstand the varying conditions of the construction site.

A robot like Go2 could at least be functional during interior construction.

Key features of Go2

4D ultra-wide LIDAR

Go2 features Unitree’s self-developed 4D LIDAR L1 with 360°x90°hemispherical ultra-wide recognition, super small blind spot, and a minimum detection distance of 0.05m, enabling it to recognize different terrains.

Embodied AI; GPT powers Go2

GPT enables Go2 to understand its user’s intentions and surroundings fully. Also, Go2 can make decisions based on information from its sensor.

Remote control, long endurance and high-performance motor, and hardware upgrades

Go2 enhanced motor performance by 30% with a peak joint torque of 45N.m. A new internal trace connecting technique allows greater flexibility and smoother movement for the robot. Its battery capacity increased to 8,000mAh, with an optional 15,000mAh ultra-long life battery. Go2 also features a 4G module, Wi-Fi 6, and Bluetooth 5.2.

Gait, posture, and offline interaction, software upgrades make the robot understand you better

To better adapt to different terrains, Go2 adopts an advanced Operation and Control System to realize more graceful pacing and stronger balance, including going up and down stairs, jumping, doing headstands, handshakes, and flips. Users can control the robot’s movements and functions through voice commands even when there is no internet.

Image transmission, force sensors, and OTA upgrades

Go2 provides real-time image transmission and radar altitude map display, which helps users check the surroundings anytime and anywhere. The app also supports displaying the parameters of each sensor to have a clearer picture of the robot’s operation status. Equipped with a 4G module, it can control the robot in an over-the-horizon distance. Another advantage is that it supports OTA upgrades. The robot automatically connects to UnitreeCloud and upgrades and optimizes its program through the OTA service, thus continuously improving user experience.

A robotic arm, charging pile, a high computing power module

Go2 has a servo robotic arm that can complete grasping, carrying, and other actions. With navigation LIDAR, the high computing power module, and charging piles, Go2 can do independent inspection route planning, record images, and provide acoustic and visual alarms when encountering anomalies. In addition, Go2 can carry a range of high-performance accessories.

Source: PR Newswire, July 18, 2023

Making it all work

As robotic technology evolves, the prices will decrease, and robots become more intelligent and autonomous. Software development becomes critical to achieve this, as hardware is already on a pretty good level.

You should naturally be concerned about the cyber security aspect of robots and drones. After all, they connect information about buildings and installations that could be of value to someone now or in the future.

How sure can we be that the data does not leak to unauthorized individuals or organizations? This is an issue that manufacturers and software developers must address and be transparent about. Otherwise, security concerns become a showstopper.

Together with drones, quadruped robots may become essential for automated data collection, inspections, and monitoring in the not-so-distant future.

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