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The REAL REASON Why Boston Dynamics Builds Robotic Dogs

11 Views· 02/19/23
Ọbádélé Kambon
Ọbádélé Kambon
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Not many robotic companies can attract millions of internet followers, but not many companies produce bots quite like Boston Dynamics. Each time the business releases new footage of its machines, it creates a stir across the internet. Whether it’s a human-like bot hopping around or a pack of robots that tow a truck, Boston Dynamics’ machines are quite the thrill. In it's latest display of engineering excellence, the company released a dog-like bot, named Spot.

In today’s video we will be taking a look at the internet’s most famous robot dog and why Boson Dynamics is changing history by making them!

A few years ago, when Boston Dynamics began releasing videos of Spot, a nimble, small four-legged robot, the public was fascinated. In the videos, the sturdy dog like bot was seen opening a door with ease, hauling a large truck, climbing up and down stairs, and even dancing to Bruno Mars. The Terminator-style quadruped offered a futuristic glimpse of robotic potential that many online viewers found exciting. Spot’s 2019 launch video has been viewed nearly 12 million times and the dance videos have been seen almost 2 million times.

Spot is 83 cm tall and weighs only 70 pounds. It can perform a number of functions including moving through rough land with ease while also being small enough to be used indoors. The unique selling point of Spot is that it can go where other wheeled robots can't, all while carrying payloads of up to 14 kilograms of inspection equipment. It has a top speed of 1.6 meters per second and a 90-minute runtime with interchangeable batteries.

In 2021, Boston Dynamics integrated an arm to its robot dog, known as the "Spot Arm" with which the machine will have other skills, such as: closing water taps, making holes to pot plants, picking up clothes from the floor and placing them in the trash can. It can even write with chalk!

So far, the company has developed two models of Spot: Spot Enterprise and Spot Explorer. Spot Enterprise, which is designed for sensing and inspection in dangerous areas, is self-charging, allowing it to collect data on a regular or on-demand basis without the need for human intervention. Sport Explorer is intended for developers who want to explore flexible mobile robots. It can perform activities ranging from industrial inspection to entertainment. It comes ready to operate with payload interfaces and flexible API.

But why exactly do we need a cool, futuristic robot dog? Sounds like a waste of resources and time, doesn't it? Well, you would be surprised to know that many open minded and forward thinking companies have already seen the real world applications of where and how this robodog technology fits in and have started spending their big bucks.

The same functional traits that made Spot fascinating to some, and “terrifying” to others, caught the interest of the Massachusetts State Police, which became the first law enforcement agency in the United States to put the robotic dog to work. Spot was ‘borrowed' by the police in two unnamed events in 2019 to explore the robotic dog's potential in law enforcement applications. The agile 70 pound hound, which can climb stairs, was employed to inspect dangerous locations and assist officers in better identifying dangers at crime scenes while also keeping them safe.

Even NASA has jumped in on the fun and suggested that the four-legged robot dog could be used to explore the surface of Mars. Researchers suggested that a modified version of Boston Dynamics’ dog like Spot robot would be an excellent replacement for traditional Mars rovers.

While Mars rovers have been and are definitely amazing, they're not the most quick, adaptable little bots. Curiosity, for example, travels at a decidedly un-blistering 0.9 miles per hour across parts of the Red Planet's surface. That's roughly a third as fast as most people walk.

The prototype robodog, nicknamed Au-Spot, is capable of moving three times faster than existing rovers. It will be ideal for investigating Martian tunnels, an area of great interest among those planning future manned missions to the planet. The idea is that they’re better suited to cover rough terrain and long distances. They could even help map out potential areas for the type of human outpost NASA plans to create on Mars in the future.

Over 1,000 potential cave openings have already been discovered in satellite pictures of Mars. Humans may be able to shelter in caves on such journeys, away from the planet's harsh dust storms, extreme cold, and punishing UV radiation. These locations, on the other hand, are not locations into which current rovers can be sent. Au-Spot's remarkable intelligence and exploration abilities will allow Earth-bound scientists to determine whether the caves can really be of use to future astronauts. The robodog can get down into such caves and then get itself back out.

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