Hamburg Port Authority – Spot the robot dog, our assistant bridge inspector

HPA’s management has been mandated to drive innovation in the Port of Hamburg. That’s why we are constantly on the lookout for new technologies and innovations that can make processes within our port more sustainable and efficient. During discussions with their network, the team at our R&D department came across Spot the robot dog and realized that he could be deployed for applications within the port.

In order to find the ideal use-case for Spot, we organized a demonstration day at various locations throughout the Port of Hamburg and invited interested colleagues and potential users to join us. It turned out that Spot was best suited to performing structural inspection work in the cavities of the Köhlbrand Bridge. The bridge is over 50 years old, around 3.8km in length, and 50 meters high. With 38,000 vehicles crossing the bridge on a daily basis, it is a real traffic bottleneck.

In order to ensure optimal traffic flow, the bridge should operate at full capacity, and lane or bridge closures should be kept to a minimum, which is why the bridge is regularly checked by the HPA team. This involves working in unpleasant conditions in the cavities of the bridge, which are dark, loud, extremely hot in the summer and cold in the winter.

This makes Spot exactly the right robot dog for the job. He is able to autonomously move around the bridge in complete darkness, moving through the narrow passageways between the bridge segments. Work that was formerly done with a torch, pen and paper can now be supported by Spot.

When it’s time to recharge, Spot makes his own way back to the charging point. With built-in sensor technology – both a 3D and an optical camera – Spot is also able to create a digital twin in which the detected damage can be marked. The damage can subsequently be displayed onsite at the bridge in digital format using augmented reality or can also be analyzed in the comfort of our offices.

This project benefits the health and safety of our employees and also leads to reduced emissions by minimizing bridge closures and therefore traffic congestion.