Spot Release 3.0 Gives Everybody's Favorite Quadrupedal Robot Edge AI Powers, Improved Autonomy

Designed to improve the robot's autonomy — including giving it the ability to manipulate push-bar doors — the Spot 3.0 update is now out.

Boston Dynamics has unveiled an upgrade for its quadrupedal Spot robot, Spot Release 3.0, which offers new autonomy functionality, AI-powered data collection, and the ability to operate the arm remotely — even opening doors.

"We’ve been working closely with Spot users in asset-intensive industries to operationalize the robot on their sites," the Boston Dynamics team writes of the new upgrade. "With Spot Release 3.0, we’ve added flexible autonomy and repeatable data capture, making Spot the data collection solution you need to make inspection rounds safer and more efficient."

One of the biggest new features: Improved data collection capabilities, thanks to edge AI. In Spot 3.0, the on-board camera is fed through an on-device TensorFlow instance — compatible with models provided by both Boston Dynamics and the wider TensorFlow community — for detection tasks ranging from reading gauges on industrial equipment to performance thermal analysis — or even "acoustic anomaly detection."

Spot's autonomous capabilities have also received a boost with an upgraded Autowalk system, based on data captured during "thousands of miles in industrial facilities and on construction sites around the world." The new upgrade brings new mission editing, planning, and scheduling capabilities, along with the ability to automatically replan a route if the set path is blocked.

The robot's fifth limb, a multi-function arm, has also been tweaked in the upgrade, offering remote operation through rear-cam and split-screen views and better manipulation capabilities — including better handling of push-bar doors. The update even brings "configurable warning sounds," to better alert bystanders to Spot's location.

Finally, the upgrade brings integration with cloud platforms including AWS, Azure, and IBM's Maximo, as well as Boston Dynamics' own web-based remote operation platform Scout.

"Every step of setting up Spot's automated inspections has been streamlined for effective data capture and processing," the company claims. "Schedule missions for Spot to collect photos, thermal images, point clouds, and other critical data; process that data into valuable signals at the edge with computer vision models; and create custom uploads to send those signals to your existing systems, so it’s easy to keep all of your data in one place for analysis and review. Spot Release 3.0 makes dynamic sensing available to everyone."

More information on the update, and a download link for those with a registered Spot to upgrade, is available on the Boston Dynamics website.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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