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Did HP Really Build a Robot?

Image courtesy of HP Motus Right-1 v1a.jpg
HP automates construction layout process with the SitePrint autonomous robotic solution.

It looks and acts like an autonomous robot, but as you watch the machine in action, you realize it’s drawing construction markings. This is HP, so of course, it’s a printer.

At Autodesk University, HP introduced and demonstrated its HP SitePrint robot. The automated robot draws complex construction site layouts in less time than the manual process. SitePrint removes a bottleneck in the construction process. HP noted that the robot can improve productivity by as much as ten times. “The goal of SitePrint is productivity,” Xavi Juarez, director of construction services at HP, told Design News. “We had a team that started working on this more than four years ago. The objective was productivity gains. We did the testing at customer sites. We worked on more than 80 projects.”

SitePrint was designed for autonomous operation, including obstacle avoidance. Juarez noted it can print lines and complex objects accurately with consistent repeatability. The text-printing capabilities bring data from the digital model to the construction site. “The issue this solves is the time it takes to do this work while other construction work waits,” said Juarez. “It’s hard to find skilled people to do this work.”

The concept of SitePrint came from an internal idea competition at HP’s Barcelona research and development center. “It began as an innovation contest for employees. We set up teams that had to go through a process with milestones and validation with customers,” said Juarez. “This was the winning one. After an in-depth investigation, we funded the team for further development and testing.”

 

According to HP, SitePrint includes a suite of technologies designed to automate the site layout process. The technology includes:

  • A rugged and autonomous robotic device designed to operate in the conditions of the construction site. Light and compact, it is very transportable, including a hard case that fits all the solution components
  • Cloud tools to submit and prepare jobs to be printed, manage the fleet, and track usage
  • A touch screen tablet for remote control and configuration
  • A portfolio of inks for different surfaces, environmental conditions, and durability requirements

HP brought customers into the development process of SitePrint to make sure the robot was able to deliver the accuracy of a skilled worker. “The existing manual layout process can be slow and labor intensive. Despite being done by specialists, there is always the risk of human error, which can result in costly reworks,” said Albert Zulps, director of emerging technology at Skanska, a construction and development company that utilizes SitePrint on two US projects. “Layout experts are a scarce resource who add a lot of value in terms of planning and strategy, but often end up dedicating most of their time to manual execution.”

HP’s SitePrint robot is available now to customers in North America through an early access program. The final product and a wider commercial launch are planned for 2023. “The manufacturing will be done in Barcelona.,” said Juarez.

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