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The serious side of life has caught up with Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot. Or has it?

The real news in advance: Boston Dynamics improves the four-legged robot Spot with many updates to hardware and software. New features include faster battery charging time, more accessories for maneuvering in more complex areas and Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier NX processor with better AI as well as 5G and cloud support.

Camera monitoring in color and a better tablet

Spot now provides a color video stream of the five integrated cameras that the robot uses to orient itself in the environment. The cameras additionally extract depth information from a scene for reconstructing a map, which Spot can use to move through environments partially autonomously.

The video data is streamed live to an upgraded Samsung tablet, which now features a larger 20-inch screen. It is also housed in a sturdier case and offers a longer battery life of up to eight hours.

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According to Boston Dynamic, spot guides should find it easier to maneuver the robot manually using a digital joystick with the new tablet and thanks to color streaming. In addition, the larger screen gives them more space for planning autonomous missions and data analysis.

Boston Dynamics has also tightened the connectivity:  With CORE I/O, Boston Dynamics offers  improved data transmission via Nvidia Jetson Xavier NX. Spot should be able to perform visual inspections on site and continuously collect data.

The Rajant Kinetic Mesh Radio Kit is designed to provide stable operation in isolated networks covering an area of up to 200,000 square meters. For this purpose, Spot will be equipped with an additional antenna as well as three radios devices, which will be distributed throughout the area.

“With Spot CORE I/O, integrating, implementing, and operationalizing custom sensors and other payloads on the Spot platform is simple and straightforward”, Boston Dynamics writes.

Boston Dynamics is still having fun with dancing robots

Boston Dynamics shows the updates and their potential real-world benefits in a new video – and in doing so, makes fun of itself in the process: For a long time, the robot dog Spot gained above-average fame for fancy dance routines rather than its useful capabilities. But now it’s time to get to work. Or is it?

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Boston Dynamics is promising further enhancements to the Spot platform and ecosystem. Spot would be used in many organizations for asset management strategies and long-term predictive maintenance planning. The robotics company cites nuclear environments, construction sites and manufacturing plants as examples.

Since summer 2020, Spot has mainly been sold to companies and authorities, for example for patrols or security maneuvers. Pricing starts at $75,000 depending on equipment.

The market launch was preceded by around three decades of robot research and development at Boston Dynamics. The company has belonged to Hyundai Motor since the end of 2020; the takeover price was $921 million for a majority stake of 80 percent. Japanese telecommunications and media group Softbank continues to own 20 percent.

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Online journalist Matthias is the co-founder and publisher of THE DECODER. He believes that artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the relationship between humans and computers.
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