IBM and Boston Dynamics and Combine AI Technology to Bring Edge Analytics to Spot Robot

November 04, 2021 by Stephanie Leonida

Boston Dynamics and IBM band together to upgrade the four-legged mobile robot, Spot, with artificial intelligence for industrial inspection and monitoring.

Boston Dynamics and IBM

Boston Dynamics, Inc. (Boston Dynamics) develops and supplies a range of mobile robots and software for industrial and commercial use. Boston Dynamics is a spin-off company of MIT and was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert. Hyundai Motor Group has owned the company since December 2020. 


Boston Dynamics Spot quadruped. Image used courtesy of Boston Dynamics


Recently, Boston Dynamics and IBM announced a collaboration that aims to make the former company’s Spot robot into an intelligent roaming edge device. The aim is to bolster Spot’s existing capabilities with advanced artificial intelligence (AI)-driven analysis to enhance remote inspection and monitoring of hard-to-reach or hazardous industrial sites.


Integrating IBM Advanced AI

In today’s world, where manufacturing facilities and industrial sites are transitioning into Industry 4.0, operators are looking to automate as many processes as possible to account for labor shortages, enhance worker safety, and increase overall productivity. 

Boston Dynamics’ Spot may provide near real-time inference concerning collected facility data through thermovisual analysis by integrating IBM’s AI solution. One of IBM’s solutions that could be integrated into the Spot robot is their IBM Maximo Application Suite. This application suite can help monitor, maintain, and manage their assets.  


The IBM Maximo Application Suite interface. Image used courtesy of IBM


The technology is hoped to detect anomalies or issues with any station components, that if otherwise left unchecked, could lead to equipment failures and power outages. 

Operators could reduce maintenance costs and reduce unwanted downtime through such detective capabilities. Spot could provide industrial companies with a hands-off way of optimizing field operations and boosting maintenance productivity in manufacturing facilities, warehouses, power plants, and more. 

IBM Consulting will take charge of developing edge payloads that integrate with Spot using AI and hybrid cloud innovations from IBM Research. IBM will be bringing forward the analytics and AI to interpret data as it comes in and provide dashboards to allow for rapid-decision making using an enterprise asset management (EAM) system.


National Grid

National Grid plc is a British multinational electricity and gas utility company based in London, which provides electricity and gas to Massachusetts and New York. National Grid will share its knowledge in asset management and provide network reliability to given aspects of the Spot project. 

The collaboration hopes to provide Spot with even more capabilities in the future. This includes automated work order generation and the initiation of corrective actions through alerts.

For the National Grid and other operators, the soon-to-be-developed AI-driven Spot will enable a greater frequency and consistent level of inspections. This will free up operations and maintenance teams to carry out other higher-value work.