The construction industry has recently seen the benefits of reality capture through the use of 360° cameras and laser scanning. From reducing rework and optimizing schedules to improving overall quality, reality capture offers a range of improvements. Reality capture allows you to monitor progress as well as determine the differences between the original design and the final build. However, there is a challenge to adopting reality capture – capturing the data.
Construction companies often want to use reality capture, with some clients even requiring periodic updates. However, it takes time to capture that data and is usually a lower priority for project superintendents and engineers. While they understand the importance of creating and updating these records, the idea of spending hours walking a tripod and camera around the worksite isn’t appealing. Even newer capture devices such as hard hat-mounted cameras are bulky and most construction team members aren’t keen on wearing them.
Reality Capture Robots Change the Game
By using robots, construction companies can get the data they need and more frequently. If you’re wondering why a robot changes the game, it’s fairly straightforward.
- Automatically Done: Autonomous reality capture robots work independently, taking photos while roaming a construction job site.
- Schedule Off Hours: These robots have a computer onboard allowing you to schedule when and where they go, so you can have them move through a job site when the crews aren’t there to avoid any privacy concerns.
- Passive Data Collection: Most autonomous robots have obstacle detection built into their programming, so they can passively traverse a construction job site without fear of stumbling over construction materials, knocking over ladders, or bumping into workers.
- Faster Data Collection: Using a remote controlled robot cuts data collection time in half.
- Disappear from Photos: A complaint many people have with reality capture is appearing in the photos or having to set a timer to hide. With a robot, you can safely operate it and stay out of sight around a corner by using the video screen on the robot.
- Cool & Fun: The entertainment value of driving a robot around your workplace can offset the monotony of data capture. By making the task more fun, you increase the chance that it gets done!
ROI of Reality Capture Robots
Your Return on Investment (ROI) depends on the capabilities of your robot. A remote controlled robot still requires a person to operate it, however, the robot cuts the time to capture data in half. Additionally, you can collect data more frequently because using a robot saves time and users want to complete the task now because it’s fun and exciting.
With autonomous reality capture robots, you no longer need an operator so you’re saving that employee at least 1-2 hours per inspection, which typically happened weekly when done manually. Since the robot is automated, you can schedule the robot to scan the jobsite daily or even twice a day.
Integrating with Reality Capture Software
Our robots make integration easy by using standard 360° cameras and scanners to capture data. By doing so, users can use most professional reality capture software to create their virtual maps.
Currently, our Groundhog (autonomous reality capture robot) uses a specific 360° camera because of our custom integration. This integration allows you to designate waypoints for the robot to record photos at. The robot can automatically send these images to a compatible reality capture program. We hope to expand this feature to additional cameras as time goes on.
Reality Capture Robots Becoming More Affordable
Reality capture robots are still fairly new technology, but that doesn’t mean affordable options don’t exist. Until recently, the only options on the market cost upwards of $100,000, making it difficult to scale or even show an ROI.
Our construction company clients requested a more affordable solution, so we created two options:
- An affordable autonomous reality capture robot we call the Groundhog that costs less than $20,000.
- A new configuration for our compact inspection robot (GPK-32 4WD), creating a remote control reality capture robot that costs less than $5,000.
What’s Next for Reality Capture Robots
As robotics and reality capture continue to grow together, we expect to see even more developments. Seamless solutions for users, more accurate data from scanning equipment, and even lower price points are just some of the potential changes we can look forward to in the future.