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Spot Release 3.0: Flexible autonomy and repeatable data capture

Artificial intelligence is changing how businesses operate, furthering applications from enterprise asset management to construction site tracking and everything in between. AI systems depend on data, but reliable, repeatable data is hard to collect in busy, remote, or hazardous work sites. Spot solves this problem by acting as a dynamic sensor, collecting data where and when it’s needed, freeing operators from tedious data collection and enabling companies to accelerate their digital transformations.

How to Gather Better Data and Reduce Dosage in Nuclear Facilities

Nuclear power constitutes more than half of the non-carbon electricity generated in the United States, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Given global decarbonization efforts, there is a strong likelihood that nuclear power will become a more significant contender in energy production as time progresses and demand continues to climb. 

Build It. Break It. Fix It.

Atlas jogs up to the embanked yellow plywood panels, bouncing with ease from one to the next until the humanoid robot has made its way up to a box that sits at about waist level. Sensing the gap in front of it, Atlas pauses, plants its feet, and broad jumps across to a table on the other side. 

It sticks the landing. By all appearances, Atlas is cruising. But then, as the robot descends the three stairs back to the floor, a geyser of pink hydraulic fluid erupts from its left knee. The robot gets a few more staggered steps in as the oil gushes into the air, and then collapses in a heap. 

Flipping the Script with Atlas

What does it take for a robot to run, flip, vault, and leap like an athlete? Creating these high-energy demonstrations is a fun challenge, but our technical goals go beyond just creating a flashy performance. On the Atlas project, we use parkour as an experimental theme to study problems related to rapid behavior creation, dynamic locomotion, and connections between perception and control that allow the robot to adapt – quite literally – on the fly. 

Atlas | Leaps, Bounds, and Backflips

For the first time today, both Atlas robots have completed the complex obstacle course flawlessly. Or, almost flawlessly.

The first of the two robots ran up a series of banked plywood panels, broad jumped a gap, and ran up and down stairs in the course set up on the second floor of the Boston Dynamics headquarters. The second robot leapt onto a balance beam and followed the same steps in reverse, and then the first robot vaulted over the beam. Both landed two perfectly synchronized backflips, and the video team has captured every move. 

From Margaritas to Mars: An Interview on Spot’s Custom Payloads

Spot is more than a mobile robot; it’s a mobile sensing platform that developers can customize with software, sensors, and other hardware payloads to achieve exactly what they need for specific applications. Whether it’s building the tools to explore other planets or to inspect worksites, the ability to easily build on Spot’s base functionality has huge real-world value. 

This flexibility also opens up opportunities for more creative applications. For example, Spot has a storied history with alcoholic beverages, from inspecting breweries to doing other activities with beer. But before all that, there was Margarita Spot: an internal project developing a Spot payload that blends the perfect margarita.

Spot Collects Data and Senses Radiation in Nuclear Environments

Producing sustainable, clean energy is one of the most important problems for us to solve in our time. While it brings challenges of its own, nuclear energy continues to provide large quantities of carbon-free electricity to the world and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. Throughout the history of nuclear power, robotics have played an important role in the management, safety, and operations of generating plants. Agile mobile robots help these facilities to operate efficiently and safely, supporting remote inspection, dosage reduction, decommissioning, cleanup, and more. 

In Step with Spot

To celebrate Boston Dynamics joining the Hyundai Motor Group family, Spot joined BTS for a dance off. We documented how that dance developed from an idea to reality—the goals, the inspirations, and the challenges of choreographing robots. Kathleen Brandes, a software engineer on the Spot team, notes, “Every time we make a new video, the ability of the robot is improved. It looks fluid and artistic on film, but we need to make it work on hardware first.” 

All Together Now

At first, it’s not quite clear what you’re looking at. The yellow robots, sitting in silence, are lined up so closely that they almost resemble deck chairs stacked on top of one another. Then, in time with the music, their arms shoot out into a fluid series of patterns, giving the appearance of a single, many-armed robot peacocking for the camera. Finally, the seven Spots separate, synchronizing their steps and appearing to play off of one another’s dance moves. 

Automated Construction Site Documentation

The construction industry hasn’t always been quick to embrace new technologies, but more recently (accelerated in part by the pandemic) there has been a surge in new construction tech. New automation, robotics, and digital transformation technologies are affording opportunities to disrupt processes that are traditionally very labor-intensive. Chief among these are data capture tools and methodologies that offer construction companies greater visibility into their projects by effectively monitoring progress across their jobsites.