FARO and Boston Dynamics announce Trek integration for automated 3D scanning

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The Boston Dynamics robot model known as ‘Spot’ has been making the rounds in the news lately. Last week, it was announced that the robots would play a part in monitoring Ford manufacturing plants, and this winter, several laser scanning companies announced planned trials to test mounting various types of laser scanners and cameras on the robotic “dogs” as they walk around the jobsite.

Today, FARO has announced the product of their collaboration with the release of FARO Trek. Trek is an autonomous mobile scanning integration that combines the known accuracy of the FARO Focus laser scanner line with a platform that can navigate challenging environments.

Spot’s software has an Autowalk feature that can be used to lay out an automated scanning workflow. Once this path is laid, the robot can collect the exact same data each time, making it not only hands-free to collect, but more directly comparable than the natural variations that might come from human operators. By relying on its own sensors, Spot can repeat the same spot autonomously, but also make minor adjustments if it comes across obstacles.

Using a series of integrated sensors, the robot can understand dynamic environments and avoid obstacles or people. It is through these twin capabilities that the Trek-Spot combination excels as a hybrid device that can enable data-rich reality capture via an automated experience.

The onboard FARO Focus scanner enables users to capture fast, accurate measurements of complex objects and buildings, whether operated by man or mechanical canine. A built-in 8-mega-pixel HDR camera captures detailed imagery while providing a natural color overlay to the scan data in a range of lighting conditions.

Future applications will allow the Trek-Spot integration  to autonomously capture 3D laser scans in hazardous, confined spaces and low-oxygen environments, otherwise dangerous for humans.

Brian Ringley, Boston Dynamics’ Construction Technology Manager says that reality capture is becoming increasingly critical to on-schedule project delivery.

“The FARO Trek integration provides customers with the ability to document true as-built conditions of their site in a repeatable fashion. Because this high-frequency point cloud data collection is automatically aligned relative to project control points and BIM coordinate systems, it’s easier than ever to maintain a continuously updated digital twin.”

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Carla Lauter

Carla Lauter is the editor of SPAR3D.com and the SPAR 3D Newsletter. Before joining SPAR 3D, Carla spent 10 years on NASA and National Science Foundation funded projects focusing on Earth science and communication. She has worked on web-based outreach and online interactives for NASA Earth Science, including products for satellite missions measuring sea level, salinity and hyperspectral ocean color.

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