Nimble quadruped robot unveiled by Boston Dynamics

Google-owned Boston Dynamics has developed a vision-guided quadruped robot called "Spot," which is designed for indoor and outdoor operation and has a sensor head that enables it to navigate and negotiate through rough terrain.

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Google-owned Boston Dynamics (Waltham, MA, USA; www.bostondynamics.com) has developed a vision-guided quadruped robot called "Spot," which is designed for indoor and outdoor operation and has a sensor head that enables it to navigate and negotiate through rough terrain.

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Spot, which weighs about 160lbs, looks similar to Boston Dynamics' BigDog military robot-a 240lb. robot that has an integrated stereo vision system and a LIDAR system developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA, USA; www.jpl.nasa.gov). The system can interpret the shape of the 3D terrain in front of the robot and find a clear path forward. Though no information beyond a YouTube video of the Spot robot has been released, it can be assumed that the robot's vision system is similar to that of the BigDog. In addition, when watching the video, it appears that a Velodyne (Morgan Hill, CA, USA; www.velodyne.com) LIDAR system has been incorporated into the system.

BigDog's purpose is relatively clear, in that it is a rough terrain robot that can carry a 340lb load at 4mph and climb slopes up to 35°. In addition, DARPA awarded Boston Dynamics a $9.9 million contract to develop an advanced version of the BigDog, the LS3. In doing so, Boston Dynamics sought a military robot with increased reliability, survivability against small fire arms and a quiet power supply to support stealthy tactical operations.

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