Meet Spot: Virginia Tech’s new robot dog helps with construction project

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR)– It may look like a dog, and it may possibly bark, but Virginia Tech’s new robot dog is far from your average dog. The yellow robot dog’s name is Spot.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, Virginia Tech showcased new state of the art technology to help oversee major construction being done to Holden Hall. Spot is being used to study the role of autonomous technology on campus.

Kereshmeh Afsari, assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction, says they did not know what to expect.

“In the beginning, we did not know what we were going to expect. Are people going to be afraid of robots? Is the robot going to take my job away? Are they going to want to learn about robots?” expressed Afsari.

According to Afsari, Spot is mainly used to watch over the site. He collects data on how the project is going and surveys the timeline of construction.

Afsari says that they faced many challenges and still factor in the risk of putting Spot in a construction environment.

“The first challenge is based on the operation of Spot, the environmental challenges. For example, if Spot is walking on the job site, construction sites are dynamically changing. Every time you go to the job site there something new, there is something changed. New walls are added or new floors are placed in, so the robot can get confused,” explained Afsari.

Julian Blazier, Construction Project Manager, says they like Spot.

According to Blazier, every time the dog is walking around, workers want to stop and take a picture of him. He believes Spot is just the beginning in robot technology being used in various industries.

Afsari added the project could not have been completed without their sponsoring partners, Procon Consulting.

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