Boston Dynamics has introduced a trio of new features for its autonomous Spot robot.
The new products include a self-charging Enterprise Spot, Scout — its web-based remote operations software, and the Spot Arm.
With more than 400 Spots now in operation worldwide, the robot has tackled numerous hazardous tasks in a variety of environments such as nuclear plants, offshore oil fields, construction sites and mines.
“When we launched Spot a little over a year ago, our vision was to bring to market the only robot in the world that can go where you go, offering a way to automate data capture and gets eyes on worksites that have complex terrain,” said Robert Playter, CEO of Boston Dynamics. “Our customers are using spot in a huge variety of applications from construction sites, where conditions changes on a daily basis, to deep underground mines, that feature rough and rocky terrain.”
The three new features aim to extend Spot’s ability to perform autonomous, remote inspections and data collection, as well as enable the robot to perform manual tasks.
In order to support long, remote deployments, Boston Dynamics is introducing Spot Enterprise, which is a new version of Spot that includes the ability to self-charge and a dock. This allows the robot to perform longer inspections and data collection missions with less human interaction.
“Spot Enterprise is a reimagining of our base Spot Robot,” said Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics.
“This robot will enable continuous fully autonomous data collection of worksites of any size, to automated hazardous site inspection tasks.”
Spot Enterprise also includes upgraded hardware to improve safety, communication and behavior in remote environments. The upgrade expands the range that autonomous missions can cover, extend Wi-Fi support, adds flexibility to Spot’s payload ports and enable users to quickly offload large data sets collected during the robot’s mission.
Boston Dynamics has also introduced Scout — a web-based software that enables operators to control their fleet of Spots from a virtual control room. Operators can use Scout to take Spot anywhere a person could go on-site, allowing them to inspect 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.
“With Scout, your team should never have to step foot on a remote or dangerous site to simply get eyes on a situation,” said Chris Bentzel, Scout’s engineering lead.
Boston Dynamics is also introducing the Spot Arm, which enables users to act on data insights and perform physical work in human-centric environments. The arm is equipped to operate through semi-autonomous actions as well as telemanipulation.
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.