DPR and Dusty Robotics collaborate to set up success for Craft

This article is included in the Great Things: Issue 6 edition of the DPR Newsletter.

Dusty the robot on ground with two workers standing around
DPR partnered with Dusty Robotics to map floor layout, resulting in schedule savings and allowing foremen to focus their time on moving projects forward. Courtesy of Henning Roedel

When DPR invented the “Laybot” in 2013 – a robotic solution to perform layout in the field – the desired results and increased efficiency didn’t come through. With two prototype robots and a patent in hand, that could have been the end of the road.

Instead, DPR’s innovation team found an opportunity to partner with a startup who shared its vision and licensed its patent to Dusty Robotics. Now, Dusty’s robot is delivering on the original vision and creating new capabilities for self-perform teams.

“We want to see innovation benefit the entire industry,” said DPR’s Henning Roedel, an innovation lead who focuses on robotics. “Technology is no good sitting on the shelf. Dusty’s team saw our idea and wanted to make it a true solution. It’s an all-around win.”

With robust virtual design and construction programs serving as a data set for a project, Dusty’s team went to work to develop a robotic solution that performs layout with millimeter precision.

“Layout is a perfect opportunity for a robotic solution,” said Tessa Lau, founder and CEO of Dusty Robotics. “If mistakes are made in layout, it can have huge effects on cost and schedule. It’s also a time-intensive task. Those risks can be addressed with the right application of robotic technology.”

Close up of Dusty the robot
Dusty can map floor layouts with millimeter precision. Courtesy of Uriel Engle

Indeed, in pilot projects, Dusty’s robot, paired with an operator is five times faster at layout than a typical two-person crew. This has translated to schedule savings and allowed foremen to focus their valuable time on moving projects forward.

The prints are also crystal clear with in-line text, multiple line-types, and different colored inks reducing confusion for the trades. On projects where prefabricated elements need to go together seamlessly, the Dusty field printer has really shined.

“This can really be a game-changer,” Lau said. “It supplements the highly-skilled Craft in the field and not only sets them up for success but keeps them safer. Teams are no longer scrambling to finish layout, instead they’re asking what else can we print?”

That combination of new technology and existing knowledge of the skilled craft makes the solution catch on.

“Too often, the discussion about robotics jumps to replacing craft,” Roedel said. “At our core, DPR is a self-performing general contractor. We have thousands of DPR employees in the trades. They’re the ones who make our projects happen and, plainly, they’re irreplaceable. What we’re focused on is, how do we make it more efficient for the craft to do the things they’re best at? We think this solution does that.”