Customer Story

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

April 11, 2023
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 Robotics solution to perform autonomous data capture 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

Why Turner sought out DroneDeploy’s Robotics solution

Turner had previously purchased a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics and wanted to enhance the autonomous navigation and teleoperation capabilities of the robot.

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 inspections efficiently by integrating collected data with Turner’s existing site documentation tools like StructionSite and DroneDeploy

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

Using DroneDeploy to conduct 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 in StructionSite as a VideoWalk. The 360 images from the walk are mapped to the digital floor plan and 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 and StructionSite, Turner’s employees can easily compare any media content at different points in time to verify progress – for example, they can go “back in time” and see the services behind a wall using the X-ray feature on mobile or simply by comparing two images in a side-by-side Split View on the web app.

Data is 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, and StructionSite for interior capture and site documentation, the integration of the Robotics solution 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.

How DroneDeploy’s BIM integrations help Turner avoid costly rework

At the end of Spot’s missions, data is automatically uploaded to the DroneDeploy’s 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 review 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 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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