Boston Dynamics, a subsidiary of Google, has recently added a new robot to their repertoire. The new robot is called Spot (video below) and is every bit as quirky and cool as it’s bigger brother Big Dog. These robots are not some run-of-the-mill Radio Shack (R.I.P.) hobby kits that are built in mom’s garage. They are advanced robotics that combine analytical thinking with a rugged and capable design that enables these machines to navigate even the most stubborn terrain.
Boston Dynamics was bought by Google in 2013. Most of Boston Dynamic’s robots mimic animals, however they do have a human-like robot called Atlas that can walk and navigate like a human and even climb to some extent, as well as carry objects. All of the Boston Dynamics robots have one common feature it would seem. When you kick them, they just take it and keep on moving. It is comical to watch but serious in it’s implications.
One of the main issues that face robotic engineers is the ability of a robot to navigate its terrain. In any environment, be it in the woods, on snow or ice, or even in space, there are unique and difficult navigational challenges that must be overcome. One such issue is the possibility of environmental issues such as wind, falling debris or rocks, or other natural anomalies that could crash into the robots. It is important for them to be able to either maintain or regain control and movement quickly so to avoid danger. There is also the human factor. If a robot is in military or law enforcement service, it is subject to any myriad of potential dangers, or simply some jerk just walking up and kicking it for now apparent reason. This is why Boston Dynamics is so cool. Their robots are able to maintain stability from a whole host of difficult situations.
Spot, their latest robot, mimics a dog. It can move up and down hills with no issues and is able to navigate rocky terrain with ease, as well as climb stairs. It also appears to make a nice jogging companion and is capable of moving quickly with ease. While not as fast as the Cheetah, which the company claims is the world’s fastest legged robot, it does move quite well and seems capable of maintaining a steady and stable pace.
The robots from Boston Dynamics and fun and cool to watch, if not creepy in some cases. But with their innovations in analytical thinking, sensors, and mobility and stability, there is some serious science going on here. These innovations form the groundwork of many more possibilities. From the military to law enforcement, to disaster response, to just simply providing a helping hand, robots are here to stay and the team from Boston Dynamics is leading the way.