M5 drivers in Somerset may spot robotic dog on side of road

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WATCH: Spot carries out roadside surveys

Drivers on the M5 in Somerset should not be alarmed if they spot a robotic dog roaming the side of the road.

The robot, called Spot, has been brought in by National Highways which is using it to survey the county’s roads, capturing information in hard to reach locations.

Spot had its first live trial alongside the M5 in Somerset.

As an alternative to human inspectors, it could reduce “costly and disruptive” traffic management.

Its “dog eye view” is being used to capture information on steep banks, in culverts and under bridges.

‘Variety of terrains’

National Highways said that Spot is a “safer, cost effective” alternative to people investigating these difficult to reach locations across its network.

The organisation said Spot will help cut the amount of time its employees are put at risk.

Guy Swains, engineering manager at National Highways’ south west geotechnical team, said: “We’re now live trialling the robotic tool with a view to utilising it via our contractors in future survey work.

“As part of an ongoing exploration, Spot’s capabilities will be tested over a variety of terrains and environments and in differing weather and ground conditions.”

A robot dog walking along a test stretch of motorwayIMAGE SOURCE,MAISIE LILLYWHITE
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Spot was trialled at the National Highways’ development centre in the Cotswolds in 2023

National Highways is working with BAM Ritchies and AECOM to make Spot part of its working practices.

It was first put through its paces at a development centre in Moreton-in-Marsh last summer.

Its capabilities were tested over several highways settings, including different ground conditions and on earthworks of various slopes, heights and materials.

Mr Swains said that the initial run of testing has been “encouraging”.

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