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How Turner Construction Uses Ground Robots to Cut Inspection Time by Over 95%

Saving Valuable Man Hours by Tracking Progress with DroneDeploy’s Autonomous Mobile Mapping

Turner Construction - Global

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Spot from Boston Dynamics accurately and repeatedly inspecting construction projects at Turner

Turner is a US-based international construction services company with over 10,000 employees. It is renowned worldwide for its innovative use of technology and completes approximately $12 billion of construction projects each year.

One of the biggest construction users of the DroneDeploy platform, Turner recently decided to add Ground Robotics to its arsenal of tools for building large-scale data centers across the US.

Turner now uses DroneDeploy’s Ground Robotics solution to perform mobile mapping, LiDAR scanning and 360 virtual walkthroughs of its construction sites on a daily basis. By sending robots to perform inspections overnight, Turner is able to accurately, consistently and repeatedly capture progress on some of its biggest and most complex projects – which currently include the construction of large data halls.

DroneDeploy just works – it does exactly what we needed and expected the solution to do. We save four to five man hours with each 15-minute automated mission with Spot.

Chris McKee, Reality Capture Manager, Turner Construction

An Insta360 camera and Leica’s BLK ARC are used in automated inspection missions on job sites

Why Turner sought out Ground Robotics

Turner had previously purchased a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics with the intention of using it with a terrestrial scanning integration to plan autonomous missions. However, the team struggled to get the autonomous navigation and teleoperation running smoothly.

That’s why Chris McKee, Reality Capture Manager at Turner, turned to DroneDeploy’s specialists for help.

McKee had three wishes:

  • to navigate large data center construction sites autonomously;
  • to capture daily images of progress; and
  • to perform LiDAR scanning efficiently.

With DroneDeploy’s Ground Robotics solution, McKee was able to achieve all of these goals. Turner now uses Spot with an Insta360 camera and Leica’s BLK ARC on job sites with great success.

Using DroneDeploy to conducting 360 virtual walkthroughs overnight

Because the DroneDeploy platform enables Turner to map routes for Spot to follow autonomously, the mobile robot is able to capture data overnight after all the workers have gone home.

These missions can be remotely scheduled from anywhere and set to repeat at the same time each day. Equipped with the Insta360 camera, Spot captures a detailed visual timeline of progress on the job site and uploads this data to the cloud. This saves hours of valuable time for Turner’s contractors as they don’t have to walk through sites manually taking photographs of progress.

This data is processed into a DroneDeploy 360 Walkthrough within the platform – a virtual tour of the job site consisting of 360-degree video footage. The 360 Walkthroughs are easy to view, annotate and share with stakeholders. Because these visual inspections are done regularly, they are an excellent tool for recording changes in the as-built environment. Using DroneDeploy, Turner’s employees can easily compare walkthroughs at different points of time to verify progress – for example, they can go “back in time” and see the services behind a wall.

Lidar scans are captured in 95% of the time using the Ground Robotics platform from DroneDeploy

Helping Turner to achieve full reality capture

As Turner was already using DroneDeploy for its outdoor aerial scans, the integration of Ground Robotics has provided a full reality capture solution in one platform. For example, Spot can capture high-resolution 360-degree photos of specific points of interest, and these images will appear geolocated on Turner’s existing aerial scans within DroneDeploy.

Performing LiDAR scanning 16-times faster

Instead of relying solely on traditional terrestrial scanning, Turner also uses Spot for mobile mapping. Equipped with a BLK ARC, Spot is able to scan each data hall in approximately 15 minutes – a process that previously took four or five hours.

According to McKee, the mobile mapping is accurate enough for technical teams to pick up any critical issues, and if they’re unsure about something they can use a terrestrial scanner to perform a closer inspection.

“Before, our operator had to gather his gear, load it in the car, get to site and scan, and go back to the office to download the data. Now, Spot can be left on-site and does it all. The data appears in the cloud for our teams to start processing from anywhere,” explains McKee.

The speed and efficiency of Spot’s mobile mapping capabilities means Turner can perform scans far more regularly and detect potential issues earlier – mitigating the need for expensive rework down the track. And because DroneDeploy’s software enables Turner to create autonomous mapping missions, Spot can be scheduled to perform scans at night. This has improved the quality of surveys as there are no moving personnel or equipment on-site.

How DroneDeploy’s BIM integrations help Turner avoid costly rework

At the end of Spot’s missions, data is automatically uploaded to the Ground Robotics platform, where it is pushed to the virtual design and construction (VDC) pipeline. The data can then be analyzed and compared against building information modeling (BIM) projects to detect any anomalies before they result in expensive rework. Turner’s technical teams can also use DroneDeploy to remotely activate and teleoperate Spot, and rescan an area of interest if something needs to be checked.

Looking to the future, McKee hopes this form of robotic reality capture becomes standard for data center construction and other large projects to help clients realize speed and efficiency gains. “Working with the DroneDeploy Ground Robotics team has been a great experience and we’re really excited to scale up our use of Spot on upcoming projects.”

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