Turning a Remote Controlled Boston Dynamics Spot Robot Into an Autonomous Site Inspector

The seemingly indefatigable Tom Scott traveled to a remote location of a hydroelectric plant high in the Austrian Alps to see how a company called Energy Robotics has used their proprietary software to turn the normally remote-controlled four-legged Spot robot by Boston Dynamics into an autonomous on-site inspector that can take temperature readings and provide anomaly alerts 24 hours a day.

 Boston Dynamics and other companies build the actual physical robots, and provide a remote controller that someone can use to directly move the bots around. But they also provide an interface for computer code. The robot has built-in navigation and obstacle avoidance, so in the same way that you can write code to automate things on a regular computer, you can write code for the robot dog’s computer too. …The robot is not remote controlled. It’s doing that task autonomously.

They chose the Spot robot because it is able to navigate an environment built for humans.

This is a place designed for humans, though, which is why robots with wheels or tracks aren’t an option. So it’s important to have a robot which is capable to operate in human environment, because all the infrastructure humans have built has been built for humans. So therefore, we need the robot to be capable of interacting with its environment, meaning simply: every other situation like here where we need to climb stairs, we’re using a robot on legs.

Here’s more information about the process.

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