General Contractor and Construction Technology Firm Pilot Automated Robotic Layout

October 27, 2021

A robotic rover draws layout in an indoor construction site

Brasfield & Gorrie recently teamed up with Houston-based construction technology firm Rugged Robotics to pilot new robotic layout technology on a Brasfield & Gorrie jobsite in Dallas. Together, the firms tested the new Rugged Robotics rover on a hotel construction site. Rugged Robotics completed multi-trade layout on one floor, covering about 25,000 sq ft. Following the successful pilot, the companies have identified additional opportunities to use Rugged Robotics’ rover on Brasfield & Gorrie jobsites.

“Brasfield & Gorrie constantly seeks innovative approaches to address everyday construction challenges, and this pilot is an example of our commitment to finding solutions,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Innovation and Operational Technology Specialist Ryan Hittie. “Our industry continues to have ample workforce needs, and we expect to continue to need more workers than we currently have in the industry. Robotics can come alongside our workforce development efforts to keep us building effectively and safely.”

Terry Russell is the superintendent on the jobsite that hosted the Rugged Robotics pilot, and he completed millions of feet of layout earlier in his career. He estimated that the layout that took the robots four days to complete would have taken two or three times as long using traditional methods.

“This is a win,” Russell said. “They’re able to change colors for different trades and ADA compliance, which makes it easy for our teams to see information that relates to their individual trades.”

Traditionally, the field layout process involves using tape measures, chalk lines and surveying equipment to manually mark the locations of walls and mechanical systems. Rugged Robotics automates this process, using small robotic vehicles to mark fully coordinated designs on concrete floors. The rover can print much more information than is typically seen on a manual layout, which reduces the time workers spend reviewing plans, and as a result, they conduct faster, more accurate installations. This technology also helps eliminate potential oversights and errors in the manual layout, which can impact multiple trades and result in incorrect installation, delays and rework.

Another advantage of this technology is that it takes care of easily automated, often repeatable tasks, allowing people to focus on higher-value tasks that require their expertise.

“I think the potential of this type of technology is limitless,” added Project Manager Katie Denny. “I think having a robot do your layout is going to be the next big thing.”

Rugged Robotics was founded by a registered professional engineer and a former NASA roboticist. Layout is the first construction challenge the team aims to address.

“We’re really just trying to build better. Brasfield & Gorrie’s willingness to pilot technology is essential to innovating and solving construction challenges,” said Rugged Robotics Founder and CEO Derrick Morse, P.E. “Technology has evolved to a point where there are a lot of opportunities to implement and deploy technology on a jobsite and to do it effectively to solve some of the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis. We aim to improve the quality and efficiency of the building process.”

The collaboration between Brasfield & Gorrie and Rugged Robotics aligns with Brasfield & Gorrie’s commitment to innovation, one of the company’s five values, and is one of many ways Brasfield & Gorrie is embracing leading-edge solutions on its construction sites. Last year, the company worked with Boston Dynamics and DroneDeploy to automate 360-degree visual documentation. Brasfield & Gorrie also uses autonomous machine control on jobsites and is piloting ways to integrate augmented and virtual reality technology to improve the construction process.