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Boston Dynamics adds new features to quadruped robot dog


When it comes to Boston Dynamics' Spot robot, many people may first think of the lithe, dancing quadruped robot dog.

inspection Robot dogBoston Dynamics Spot partners with BTS (Source: Hyundai Motor Group)

However, over the past few years, Boston Dynamics has been working hard to build Spot into a platform that can provide customers with complete solutions for the industrial field. To this end, robots can be equipped with different sensors according to different application needs, and collect data required for different kinds of business, and these sensors can go anywhere the customer wants them to go.

The solution proposed by Boston Dynamics is to add payloads that can be integrated for various needs to Spot. For example, different types of data acquisition sensors can transmit the communication load back from the outgoing site, and a software system is installed on this basis, so that customers can understand the site in time, and take quick response and decision-making.
inspection Robot dogSpot is designed as a complete solution and platform that can work in different situations and can be configured with different payloads (Source: Boston Dynamics)

On May 3, Boston Dynamics announced that it had improved the Spot platform and added new features. In addition to including robot hardware upgrades, these updates bring the Spot platform's payload and software ecosystem expansion, which will make Spot a more complete "mobile sensor platform."

The latest updates to Spot's hardware, including a new and improved remote control tablet and a redesigned charger that charges smarter and faster.

Spot's perception of the surrounding environment is achieved through five stereo sensors located around it. The images and depth data captured by these cameras can be processed by Spot into three-dimensional form. Originally, the images captured by these cameras were black and white. After this update, not only the sharpness of the shot has been greatly improved, but the image has also been upgraded to a color image.

In addition, Spot's remote control has also been significantly upgraded. Previously, its remote was modified from a gamepad, and the new tablet remote after the upgrade is a Samsung tablet. Moreover, it is weatherproof, sturdy and drop-resistant, and the remote control tablet can continue to be used even after being dropped from a height of 1.2 meters. In addition, users can also watch the pictures and videos sent by the robot in real time through the tablet remote control.
inspection Robot dogBoston Dynamics' newly released Spot new control tablet (Source: Boston Dynamics)

Spot's charging time has been drastically reduced with this update. Now, it takes less than an hour to fully charge the Spot, and users can also put the charger on the Spot and take it with them.

This update adds 2 new payloads to Spot that will make it more capable of communicating. The Regional Radio Suite can generate a separate regional network dedicated to operating Spot, allowing for simple and fast deployment of Spot.

Spot's core I/O (input and output port) is an edge computing load that includes a high-processing computer and a 5G interface, so that Spot can connect to the 5G network by itself when the 5G network is covered on the job site.

Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics was originally created to create realistic 3D computer simulations of the Navy's aircraft launch operations. Soon after, the company started making physical robots. In 2005, Boston Dynamics released its first robot and one of the company's most famous robots, the BigDog, which was primarily designed to help soldiers carry heavy equipment in rough terrain where vehicles are difficult to navigate.

Since then, the robot has undergone several updates and iterations, including the last-generation variant of BigDog released in 2012, the LS3 robot that can adapt to hot, cold, and humid environments and is 7 times faster and 10 times quieter than BigDog. However, in 2015, Boston Dynamics finally decided to completely stop the BigDog project, mainly because the BigDog robot made a lot of noise while working.

At present, Boston Dynamics' most popular robot Spot is an important turning point in the evolution of Boston Dynamics robots. In February 2016, the company released the initial version of the Spot robot line, now known as the "Spot Classic." Originally designed for indoor and outdoor operation, the robot weighs just 160 pounds and is lighter, smaller and more agile than the BigDog robot because it uses electricity rather than a gas engine to power its hydraulic system.

The Spot robot has evolved through many generations. In June 2016, the Spot Mini, which weighs only 55 pounds, is an all-electric robot that can run for 90 minutes on a charge. Since subsequent Spot series robots were based on Spot Mini rather than Spot Classic, the Spot Mini is now simply called "Spot".

The Spot robot is Boston Dynamics' first commercial robot. In June 2020, Spot was officially launched on the market, priced at $74,500.

Spot robots are also working with NASA to explore other planets beyond human reach. In this project, Spot can not only make a 3D map of the area being explored, its arm can also sample.
inspection Robot dogBoston Dynamics' Spot robot (Source: Boston Dynamics)

It's worth noting that Boston Dynamics' ownership has changed several times. In 2017, Japan's SoftBank Group bought the company, following Google's parent company Alphabet's acquisition of the company in 2013. In 2020, South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group acquired an 80% stake in the company for $880 million.

After changing ownership to Hyundai Motor Group, the company has launched Handle robots for logistics in 2017 and two commercial robots for warehouses, Pick and Stretch, in 2021.

Four-legged Robot Dog;

Robot dog;

inspection Robot dog.

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