Boston Dynamics to give Spot a robot arm and charging station
Boston Dynamics announced that it has developed a robot arm for its "Spot" robot and also a charging station. Both will be available for purchase this spring.
The robot Spot made quite a splash on the internet last year, thanks to its YouTube videos. The four-legged yellow-bodied robot was shown marching its way autonomously and untethered through a wide variety of terrain in ways reminiscent of a dog; hence its name. The robot dog is available for sale. Those interested can purchase one directly from Boston Dynamics for $75,000. CEO Rob Playter told members of the press recently that the company has sold 260 of the robots as of last June. Those robots are currently being tested (and in some cases, used) in mining, healthcare, construction and other sectors—mostly in situations that are dangerous for people. The company has also created a host of add-ons for the robot to assist in a wide variety of applications. The company is now adding to that list by making available both a robot arm and a charging station.
The robot arm affixes to the top front of Spot, resembling a long neck with an articulated joint. A gripper is mounted on the end of the arm, vaguely reminiscent of a head with a mouth. The robot arm is capable of six degrees of motion and comes with its own user interface (UI). The arm can be programmed ahead of time to carry out tasks, such as using doorknobs, turning hand cranks, or lifting, carrying and moving materials. Alternatively, the arm can be controlled by a user watching the action. The arm is programmable via an associated developer API toolkit.
Boston Dynamics has also developed a charging station for the robot, which Spot can use autonomously. It does so by hovering over the charger and squatting down onto it, sort of like a bird brooding its eggs. As part of its press announcement, Playter said that the reason it took a while for the company to make a charger for sale was because they wanted to make sure it could be used in environments where people are not safe, such as oil rigs or radiation zones.
More information: Spot: www.bostondynamics.com/spot
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