When it comes to Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot (hereinafter referred to as Spot), many people may think of the four-legged robot with light steps and dancing for the first time.
However, in 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 requirements, and collect data required for different kinds of business, and Spot can carry these sensors to go anywhere the customer wants them to go.
Boston Dynamics Spot Partners with BTS
The solution proposed by Boston Dynamics is to add integratable payloads to Spot for various needs. 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.
On May 3, 2022, Boston Dynamics announced that it has improved the Spot platform and added new features. In addition to including robot hardware upgrades, these updates bring Spot platform payload and software ecosystem expansion, which will make Spot a more perfect “mobile sensor platform”.
The latest update 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 into three-dimensional form by Spot. 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.
Spot is designed to work in different situations and can be configured with a complete set of solutions and platforms for different payloads
Boston Dynamics’ new Spot control panel
In addition, Spot’s remote control device has also been greatly 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.
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 when a 5G network is covered at the job site, Spot can connect to the 5G network by itself.
Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics was originally created to create realistic 3D computer simulations of aircraft launch operations for the Navy. 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, the main reason is that the BigDog robot makes a lot of noise when 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 been developed 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 after charging. Since the subsequent Spot series robots are based on the Spot Mini rather than the Spot Classic, the Spot Mini is now directly called “Spot”.
The Spot robot is Boston Dynamics’ first commercial robot. In June 2020, Spot was officially launched on the market at a price of $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.
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 its 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 2017 and 2021 respectively.