Boston Dynamics
Arm Industrial Drag Hose Credit To Boston Dynamics 60197f40a398d

New Year, New Tricks

Feb. 2, 2021
Boston Dynamics introduces new iterations and enhancements to its dog-like robot Spot.

In a live stream event on YouTube, Boston Dynamics announced an expanded product line for its agile mobile robot Spot.

Like teaching its robot dog new tricks, the new Spot offerings mean opening up a world of exciting potential use cases. The new products include a self-charging Enterprise Spot, web-based remote operations software Scout as well as the Spot Arm. These additions extend Spot’s ability to perform autonomous, remote inspections and data collection, and enable the robot to perform manual tasks.

The dog-like robot has successfully undertaken hazardous tasks in a variety of inhospitable environments such as nuclear plants, offshore oil fields, construction sites and mines. Customers have leveraged Spot’s advanced mobility, autonomy, control and customizability to improve operational efficiency, enhance worker safety and gather critical data. Spot’s new products are designed to enable customers to fully operationalize continuous, autonomous data collection on remote or hazardous worksites of any size, from anywhere they have access to their network.

Spot Enterprise. Equipped with self-charging capabilities and a dock, this new iteration allows Spot to perform longer inspection tasks and data collection missions with little to no human interaction. Enterprise leverages upgraded hardware for improved safety, communications and behavior in remote environments. These upgrades expand the range that autonomous missions can cover, extend WiFi support, add flexibility to Spot’s payload ports, and enable users to quickly offload large data sets collected during the robot’s mission.

Scout. This web-based software enables operators to control a fleet of robots from a virtual control room. Operators can use Scout to take Spot anywhere a person could go on-site, allowing them to inspect critical equipment or hazardous areas from afar. The software is designed with a simple user interface to run pre-programmed autonomous missions or manually control the robot, to perform various tasks such as walking or posing the robot to capture images and thermal data of obscured gauges or pipes using the Spot CAM+IR thermal imaging payload.

Spot Arm. With the ability to carry up to 5 kilos, the arm enables users to act on data insights and perform physical work in human-centric environments. The arm is equipped to operate through both semi-autonomous actions and tele-manipulation. It can manually or semi-autonomously grasp, lift, carry, place, and drag a wide variety of objects. It is also capable of manipulating objects with constrained movement and can open and close valves, pull levers and turn handles and knobs in coordination with its body to open standard push and pull doors.

Users can leverage the tablet to directly tele-operate the arm to perform one off inspection, or manipulation tasks. Alternatively, users can access all the arm functions, through an API, enabling the development of novel autonomous control strategies, or even building custom teleoperation interface. Out of the box, both of these interfaces provide access to basic kinematic control of VR, as well as a suite of more complex behaviors.

“Since first launching Spot, we have worked closely with our customers to identify how the robot could best support their mission critical applications,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics in a statement. “Our customers want reliable data collection in remote, hazardous, and dynamic worksites. We developed the new Spot products with these needs in mind, and with the goal of making it easy to regularly and remotely perform critical inspections, improving safety and operations.”

About the Author

Peter Fretty | Technology Editor

As a highly experienced journalist, Peter Fretty regularly covers advances in manufacturing, information technology, and software. He has written thousands of feature articles, cover stories, and white papers for an assortment of trade journals, business publications, and consumer magazines.

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