News

Boston Dynamics Expands Autonomous Capabilities of SPOT Robot

February 19, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

Boston Dynamics grows its SPOT product line with a new self-charging SPOT, software allowing remote operations, and a robot arm to enhance autonomous site inspection.

Boston Dynamics designs and supplies global industrial and commercial markets with mobile robots. Recently, the company expanded its quadrupedal robot, SPOT. 

 

Video courtesy of Boston Dynamics. 

 

The new products include SPOT Enterprise, a self-charging SPOT, a web-based remote operations software, Scout, and SPOT Arm, for physical handling. 
 

What is SPOT?

The SPOT bot is an ideal 4-legged companion for workers that conduct their activities in harsh environmental conditions. This bot has been expertly designed to navigate hazardous working environments. 

SPOT incorporates a 360o camera to aid perception and object avoidance. Its robotic limbs balance dynamically and have the ability to support payloads of up to 14kg. This makes it suited for ferrying inspection equipment. Built-in stereo cameras and an intuitive tablet application can be used to remotely control the SPOT bot from a distance. 

Users can either implement pre-built solutions from existing third-party software and hardware developers or can use the software development kit (SDK) to customize control processes, set-up autonomous missions, and integrate sensor inputs to generate data analysis tools. 

Payload ports and mounting rails can be used to attach external hardware to suit desired applications. Around 400 SPOT bots are being utilized around the world in challenging environments including offshore oil fields, construction sites, nuclear plants, and mines.

 

SPOT Enterprise

Since its unveiling to the commercial market in 2019, SPOT has been providing users with autonomous operations, maneuverability, control, and customizability to help improve worker safety, the efficiency of operations, and collect integral data. 

To further improve customer satisfaction, Boston Dynamics has introduced SPOT Enterprise. This allows SPOT bots to self-charge through built-in dock detection and a user-friendly tablet interface. Users can ask SPOT to return for charging. 

 

The SPOT Enterprise allows for fast data offloading when docked for charging. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics.

 

The SPOT Enterprise package comes with upgraded hardware to further enhance safety, communications, control for hard-to-access sites. 

SPOT Enterprise offers high-speed data offloading while docked through enhanced Ethernet connection and WiFi. Missions undertaken by SPOT will also be able to run for longer to cover more ground concerning data collection.

 

SPOT Arm

Boston Dynamics are making its SPOT Arm available for customers wishing to use SPOT to interact with its environment. The arm is capable of lifting, grasping, dragging, carrying, and placing a variety of objects through semi-autonomous actions and telemanipulation. 

In a news release from the BBC, readers can watch a lively video of the SPOT Arm in action. Though limited in dexterity, the arm can manipulate objects, pull levers, turn door handles and knobs, and more. 

 

Scout

In addition to bringing its customers new hardware, Boston Dynamics released its web-based software, Scout. Scout allows operators to control their fleet of SPOTs remotely from a virtual control room. 

Operators can use SPOT bots to assess and inspect industrial equipment or run other missions that require access to hazardous areas without workers needing to be onsite. 

 

SPOT from Boston Dynamics. Image courtesy of Boston Dynamics. 

 

Operators can expect a software interface that is designed to be intuitive and allows pre-programmed autonomous missions to be run or manual control of SPOT bots. The SPOT CAM+IR thermal imaging payload can also be used to take images and collect thermal data of obscured pipes of gauges. 

In a recent news release, the CEO of Boston Dynamics, Robert Playter, concluded, “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.”

These latest products being introduced by Boston Dynamics aim to provide a solution for asset-intensive environments.