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Blenheim Trials Robot Dogs to Gather Estate Data

Blenheim Trials Robot Dogs to Gather Estate Data
28 November 2022

Blenheim estate is trialling the use of robotic dogs to monitor the site's ecosystems. 

As part of an ongoing partnership with Oxford Robotics Institute (ORI) and Oxford Biology, the estate is using autonomous robot dogs to gather information about various plant and animal species.



Picture: a photograph of the robotic dog climbing down some steps outdoors at Blenheim Palace. Image Credit: Oxford Robotics Institute


“As we face up to the challenges of climate change it is essential that we protect the estate’s unique natural heritage. By monitoring its ecosystem we can accurately track changes and help to mitigate them,” said Blenheim’s Head of Innovation David Green.

The ecosystem monitoring programme gathers information about species diversity through imaging sensors. A digital 3D model of Blenheim Palace which is linked up to environmental and building fabric monitoring devices is also being planned, to help predict the potential impacts of climate change on the estate.

David continued: “The estate, with its ancient woodlands, heritage sites and parkland, provides a hugely diverse environment. It’s effectively a ‘living laboratory’ where new research and technologies can be trialled and tested. Our goal is to use innovation to solve real-world problems across the estate and working together with experts like the ORI will allow us to do that much more effectively.”

Other joint projects in the partnership involve developing new ways to identify, map and explain the location and effects of lichen and other biological growths on the Palace’s façade. A third project will utilise drones to create high-resolution 3D images of the palace’s stonework to identify sections containing iron and develop remote methods to monitor them.


Robot Dogs for Industrial Inspection


ORI is also trialling the use of robotic dogs in the energy and construction sectors, through mobile robots that can autonomously inspect hazardous or difficult-to-access facilities.

In spring 2022, this technology was demonstrated at a Chevron petrochemical facility in Belgium. The ANYbotics ANYmal robot navigated concrete, tarmac, gravel and slopes to take pictures of analogue and digital dials, as well as thermal images of thermal vents, throughout the facility.

Another part of the trial focused on autonomous inspection, where the robot was led around the facility to build a 3D map of points of interest. The machine was then tasked with climbing industrial stairs and capturing sensor measurements and pictures.

Picture: a photograph of the robotic dog inside one of the state rooms in Blenheim Palace. Image Credit: Oxford Robotics Institute

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 28 November 2022


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