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Boston Dynamics Unveils their new robot: Spot

Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
by Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette. Last updated on May 05, 2016 4:30 PM
Posted on Feb 24, 2015 11:57 AM. 4 min read time

Boston Dynamics recently unveiled their new Atlas robot for the DARPA Challenge and a couple of weeks later we see their first images of Spot. A robotic dog with realistic gestures. Pretty impressive, it seems like a lot of work has been going on at Boston Dynamics. Looks like iterations are done quickly and with a lot of success. Here is a general overview of the new robot. 

If an image worth a 1000 words, imagine the value of a videos worth of images (let me know your answer in the comment section). Look at the video to see the new version of the robot dog - Spot. 

In fact, Spot seems to be an evolution of Big Dog or LS3. A leaner, lighter version of Big Dog who use to be loud, heavy and not all that agile. With this new version, they really stepped up the complexity level of the robot and also the realistic level of the robot. The robot is now moving with more fluidity and has a more 'animalistic' way to move on rough terrain. The robot seems to be running on a smaller battery and everything has been down scaled to fit the new power source. At 72 kg, Spot is still pretty heavy for a dog, but I am sure they will work to get a lighter and even more agile version in the future.

No Robots Have Been Harmed

boston-dynamics-spot-robotiq

The ''kick'' or ''push'' that is given to Spot (0:28 sec in the video) is quite impressive in terms of robot stability. You actually don't want to do the exact same thing to a dog, but you can imagine how a dog would react to such a push. And the most incredible thing is that Spot reacts in the exact same way a dog would. The ability to stand on all four legs without falling when jostled is a big improvement. In fact, the past version of the robot was heavier which complicated the task of remaining upright in terms of stability. But, you should not forget that because the previous version was heavier this also meant that it was tougher for a human to destabilize it. So the newest Spot can be considered a technological improvement. You can see the comparison between the new version and the older version at the very end of the video. 

Other Boston Dynamics Projects

Little dog is also another project of Boston Dynamics that uses the same basics as the Spot project. Little dog is also featured in the video (it is quite subtle though) and is basically a learning platform for bigger robots like Spot. The goal is to understand the motors and leg interactions and translate the information to a bigger platform.

RHex is a 6 legged robot who looks more like an insect than an actual animal. The robot is designed to go through various terrains. Sand, rocks, stairways are among the terrains that can be accommodated by this robot. The robot has a front and rear vision system and can be operated remotely at up to 700m.

Atlas is their humanoid robot. It was chosen to to be used at the DARPA Challenge. This challenge is pushing teams to build and control a rescue robot. In other words, the robot needs to perform different challenges that could happen in a realistic natural disaster such as tsunamis or tornadoes. The final goal of the challenge is to send these robots into dangerous areas that are too treacherous for humans to enter and execute rescue operations. Most of the teams that are using the Atlas robot are also using our Robotiq 3-Finger Adaptive Gripper to accomplish their manipulation tasks.

It is always good to see the different prototypes that Boston Dynamics is bringing to the robotic world. It is also impressive to see the rate at which robotic technology is evolving. Since robotics is a relatively ''slow'' world at least in terms of adoptions, it always impresses me to see so much innovation. I hope these guys will continue to impress us and have other prototypes to show us soon. Maybe a hybrid between Spot and Little dog... who knows. Take a look at the following link to see some different research projects that are using our 3-Finger Gripper. 

Innovative robotic r&d projects robotiq

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Mathieu Bélanger-Barrette
Mathieu is a production engineer at Robotiq, where he constantly strives to optimize the production line for Robotiq Grippers. He enjoys discovering new robotic applications and sharing what he learns on Robotiq's blog.
Connect with the writer:
http://robotiq.com

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