Can Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot find commercial niche?

By William Smith
The robotics company Boston Dynamics has commercially released its Spot robot. In a glossy video quite different to the usual, unadorned, straight-from...

The robotics company Boston Dynamics has commercially released its Spot robot.

In a glossy video quite different to the usual, unadorned, straight-from-the-lab videos that have become YouTube sensations, Boston Dynamics officially announced the availability of the platform while also listing its specifications.

These include a runtime of 90 minutes, a payload of 14kg, a programmable API, the ability to self-right, operating temperatures between -20 and 45 degrees Celsius and IP54 water and dust proofing.

Biomimicry, the modelling of machines on biological organisms, has been a key tenet of Boston Dynamics’ work, and Spot is no different, with a perceptible dog-like quality both the name and the video play up to.

SEE ALSO:

Though in mass production, restrictions remain in place on purchasing the robots, with Boston Dynamics shipping “to select early adopters” only, presumably those in industries which Boston Dynamics predicts Spot to be useful in. On its website, such applications include scanning construction sites for comparison, remotely inspecting oil and gas facilities and potentially scouting disaster areas.

It remains to be seen whether the commercialisation of Boston Dynamics technology will be successful. Previously owned by Google, the company was acquired by SoftBank in 2017. It may come down to a matter of cost. CNN spoke to Chris Atkeson, a roboticist at Carnegie Mellon University, who estimated that the robot would cost businesses as much as a new car – a potentially prohibitive price point.

Straight after the release of the Spot, the company debuted footage of its humanoid Atlas platform performing parkour which has eclipsed the Spot’s announcement in terms of views. Though Atlas is intended as for research, the company is developing two further robots with more self-evident commercial uses. First is the Pick, which is far more recognisable as a typical single-purpose industrial robot. Pick, however, utilises deep-learning to demonstrate a level of autonomy that improves the speed and variety of pickable products. Also targeted towards the packing industry is the Handle, which is able to replicate a human worker as it picks up, moves and stacks items aided by its wheels and deep-learning vision software.

(Image: Boston Dynamics)

Share

Featured Articles

Now is the ideal time to drive deep tech disruption

Deep tech may seem like it's years away but now is the time for organisations to be building a deep tech strategy, according to insights by BCG

UK has a technology trust problem among older bank customers

The global financial services industry has undergone enormous change, but trust in technology remains an issue for many in the UK, according to research

McLaren Racing & Alteryx Analytics: Data-driven to win

McLaren CEO Zak Brown, Head of Technology Ed Brown, and CDAO at Alteryx, Alan Jacobson, detail the widespread organisational benefits of good data

Bitcoin’s climate footprint is a step in the wrong direction

Data & Data Analytics

ICYMI: The potential of 5G and Europe’s technology gap

Enterprise IT

Oracle NetSuite’s SuiteWorld 2022 - Day 3 Highlights

Data & Data Analytics