The benefits of ground robots are becoming widely known. They can have an immense impact in sectors like oil & gas, utilities, solar, and construction – helping to perform automated inspections and gather consistent real-time data. And the barriers to entry are breaking down, as robotic hardware and sensors become more sophisticated and affordable.
But before you rush out and buy the latest inspection robot, you need to know what software is required to operate it effectively. Return on investment significantly improves if you minimize human intervention, enable robotic autonomy, and integrate robot processes with existing business systems. And these capabilities often don’t come “out of the box” with robot hardware.
Software like DroneDeploy is critical for getting the most out of your investment and ensuring your inspection robot is more than just an expensive toy. Here are some ways our platform can help you get the most out of ground robots like Spot from Boston Dynamics.
1. Automate Robotic Missions
One of the most important aspects of our robot operations software is that it allows you to send robots on autonomous missions. This has many benefits compared to manually controlling robots by someone on-site, especially when you need to inspect large areas or perform frequent inspections of the same route.
For example, you can use software to schedule Spot to perform an inspection of a construction job site at the end of each working day after employees have gone home. Or schedule Spot to perform regular inspections of a remote solar farm – detecting and locating any maintenance issues without employees needing to travel to the remote site as often.
By removing the need for human supervision, you save time and costs and free workers up for more strategic tasks. You also ensure data consistency and repeatability – as the robot follows the exact same route and captures data from the same angles, every time. This makes it easy to track changes over time and keep a consistent digital record of assets and sites.
2. Integrate Data with Business Systems
Like drones, robots are a powerful tool for gathering data about a business environment efficiently and reliably. And data is at its most valuable when it can be analyzed and used to support business decision-making. That’s why DroneDeploy can be integrated with a range of third-party business and operational systems for data analysis.
For example, construction issues detected by robots in DroneDeploy can be automatically pushed through to Procore or BIM 360 projects. This enables end-to-end visibility and speeds up issue resolution, reducing the cost and extent of rework on projects. This same workflow can be used for energy as well — sending vital equipment information via your given asset management software.
3. Act on Data-Driven Insights
Although we will soon reach a future where robots gather data, make decisions, and then take action to rectify issues, we’re not there yet. Humans are still a critical part of this process. That’s why DroneDeploy makes it easy to tag and annotate issues in the data collected by your inspection robots. These issues can then be assigned to the appropriate employees to fix.
For example, a robot inspecting an energy substation may take an image of an analog gauge, feed this data to a machine learning application, and determine that the gauge reading is abnormal. An operator could then be alerted about the abnormal result through DroneDeploy, allowing them to quickly assign a nearby engineer to investigate.
4. Build Custom Dashboards
Another benefit of using software like DroneDeploy is the ability to stream live telemetry from a robot. With our customizable dashboards, you can select the type of telemetry you want to observe and display it so it’s digestible and useful for operators. For example, you could build a teleoperation dashboard with live video streaming from the robot, and have other useful widgets (e.g. battery life, GPS coordinates, latency) displayed over the top.
You can add or remove widgets or drag and drop them to convenient locations – allowing you to truly customize your dashboard according to the operator’s needs.
In all of these scenarios, the combination of ground robots with the right software capabilities can add efficiency and autonomy to the inspection process – helping businesses derive far greater value from the latest robotic technology.