3D Disto

Layout Marking (Sumidashi) Robot - Part 1

By Masaomi Akaike


Leica 3D Disto is a product equipped with a laser distance meter and angle encoder, achieving a measurement accuracy of ±1mm@10m. It is a 3D measurement device used for applications such as architectural layout, quality inspection in manufacturing processes, and 3D measurements in laboratories. Utilizing this 3D Disto as a sensor, a layout robot has been developed and its deployment on construction sites began in 2023.

The layout robot was developed as a result of unwavering research and development efforts by TAKENAKA CORPORATION (Osaka, Osaka Prefecture)(EN). In April 2019, Takenaka announced in a press release titled "Practical Application Achieved through Introduction of Self-Propelled Layout Robot at Construction Sites" that it had reached the phase of mass production and market release. This development led to collaboration with MiraiKikai, Inc. (Takamatsu, Kagawa Prefecture)(EN), the manufacturer, and NIKKEN CORPORATION (Minato, Tokyo)(EN), the service provider for offering the robot to the market. In this interview, we will learn about the features of the layout robot from MiraiKikai, Inc., the manufacturer.

MiraiKikai, Inc., founded by Dr. Tohru Miyake while he was a graduate student at Kagawa University, is a startup company. It was the first company in the world to commercialize a solar panel cleaning robot for desert environments that doesn't require water. It was widely adopted in Dubai's mega-solar projects in 2020 and has been in continuous use in the harsh outdoor environments of the desert. Last year, the company ventured into the development of robots in new fields and successfully commercialized products such as the "Layout Robot" for the construction industry and the "AI Pig Camera" for the pig farming industry.

3D Disto


The final version of the layout robot was developed through collaboration. "Recognizing the development capability of robot products that can be continuously used in harsh outdoor environments, cultivated through the desert solar panel cleaning robot business, and aiming to solve the labor shortage issue by improving the efficiency of on-site work through RX conversion, TAKENAKA CORPORATION approached us. In 2022, TAKENAKA CORPORATION, NIKKEN CORPORATION, and our company started joint development of the layout robot. In 2023, our company began mass production of this layout robot, and in November 2023, NIKKEN CORPORATION started renting it to the domestic construction industry, initiating trial introductions at many construction sites and projects toward full-scale implementation on construction sites," said Atsushi Matsumura, Manager of the Sales and Marketing Unit at MiraiKikai, Inc..

Considering the current situation, it is necessary to develop new perspectives and establish workflows to improve construction efficiency and productivity. There is also an established concept that "layout work is done after the concrete strength has been achieved, during the delivery (or after) of materials." However, the layout robot has succeeded in lightweighting to 22kg, and it is expected to operate:

  • Even on the day after pouring concrete, when the concrete strength has not been achieved (at a time when heavy materials or people cannot enter), only the layout robot can operate.
  • As construction rationalization progresses, the chaotic arrangement of materials on site is expected to be managed systematically.

These effects are anticipated and developed.


1. 3D Disto Integration Position Correction System

The finish of concrete slabs is not uniform, and as the robot moves, there may be deviations in the robot's position. Not only at the start of work, but also every time the robot moves and changes position, the layout robot receives the laser light from the 3D Disto through the built-in light-receiving panel and accurately measures the position after movement. The XY gantry system calculates and corrects position deviations while drawing. With this system, high precision within ±3mm is achieved.

2. Operation while viewing the robot's main LCD screen

After connecting the 3D Disto and the layout robot via WIFI, work can be performed while viewing the layout robot's main screen. The laser projection image from the 3D Disto is projected in real-time onto the layout robot's main LCD screen, allowing for remote operation for alignment.

3. Dedicated oil-based pen and pen holder

Layout drawings are done with a dedicated oil-based pen. Although the ink from this special pen dries within seconds, the tip of the oil-based pen remains less prone to drying for extended periods even without a cap. This allows writing even in environments with accumulated dust or debris, as the pen pushes away debris while writing.

3D Disto

3D Disto linked position correction system

Built-in software

Built-in software

Line and character drawing with special oil-based pen

Line and character drawing with special oil-based pen


Regarding the performance of the layout robot, Mr. Atsushi Matsumura explains, "When comparing the drawing speed of skilled craftsmen with that of the layout robot, the robot may not be as fast as the craftsman, but it works accurately according to CAD data and without breaks. By using both skilled craftsmen and the layout robot simultaneously at the same site, the robot can also be operated as an extension of the craftsman themselves. Since it is a robot, it can work at a constant speed even in the darkness of night or early morning. By setting it up before the end of the day's work, it is possible to work at night and have all the work completed by the next morning." Establishing such workflows could contribute to solving the issues faced by the construction industry.

Market / Customer Feedback

"Due to the coordination correction with the 3D Disto, the layout accuracy is very high, and there are many cases where the accuracy exceeds the catalog value of ±3mm. However, since the work speed is not as fast as skilled craftsmen, there are expectations and requests for speeding up the work, which we would like to address in future upgrades." (Mr. Atsushi Matsumura)

Leica 3D Disto