Thursday, April 18, 2024

Boston Dynamics’ Spot learns new tricks for autonomous inspection tasks

The past few years have truly been transformative for technology. We’re seeing rapid advancements in AI, automation, and data management, as well as a growing need for better data collection to power these tools.

Many of the world’s leading companies are exploring the use of robots to augment their workforce. And Boston Dynamics’ Spot is one of the pioneers in the emerging mobile robotics market. The robot has been deployed more often to tackle some of the industry’s toughest, most dangerous tasks.

To help Spot do even more, Boston Dynamics released a new set of features and hardware for Spot that makes visual, thermal, and acoustic inspections easier than ever. The new features allow users to quickly plan and edit missions remotely and get better visibility into your site. Added visual and audio features help the robot signal its intentions, improving safety on busy or populous job sites.

Spot’s latest software release now has multiple simultaneous inspection types built into the platform and an updated inspection configuration workflow that provides a seamless user experience that’s quick and easy for everyone.

Spot can now be equipped with three new imaging sensors – the first is the thermal camera to detect overheating equipment, and the second is an acoustic imager that provides alerts about abnormal noise readings. And finally, there is an enhanced autonomy payload called EAP2. The robot can detect moving objects, such as people or forklifts, using this payload’s lidar.

In addition to improved inspection workflows, the company has redesigned some of Spot’s hardware and added new robot behaviors to reshape how Spot interacts with your team on the ground. It’s really important that Spot behaves in a way that people expect and understand. To do that, engineers have enhanced the robot to include an audio and visual signaling system and also added an emergency stop button on the robot for increased safety.

The new audio-visual system is fully embedded into the robot and consists of safety lights located around the robot’s body, a safety buzzer, and a speaker. The system provides enhanced safety and awareness for people working near the robot in industrial settings. In order to make sure people near the robot know what to expect, the system comes pre-configured with light patterns and tones that will alert workers that Spot is performing actions in the area.

Spot often needs to traverse slippery surfaces and wet floors. The company has updated Spot’s gaits to make the robot safer in these conditions. In its most stable gait, crawl, Spot will move one leg at a time and stay close to the ground to keep upright on slippery surfaces. The company says that even in normal walk mode, Spot is now better able to catch itself when it slips.