Spot on! - Boston Dynamics' robots
Spot by Boston Dynamics

Spot on! - Boston Dynamics' robots

2020, Nov 18    

Hello there 👋,

Welcome to the 32nd Knowledge•Day issue.

This is again late, I had a super packed week the last one and I couldn’t get time for anything tbh. I been running late on everything.

But how are you doing? This is the first post after the 6 months anniversary!

Boston’s Robots

Here’s a fun company you’ve heard of. This is one of the many companies working towards building the best set of universal human replacements for physical activities.
Competitors include Amazon Robotics, Agility Robotics, amongst more…

But their jaw-dropping agility and animal-like reflexes are the reason behind their stand in the field. Boston Dynamics is undoubtedly one of the most sought after company. Legs or wheels, the robots this company makes are fabs. They’re so nice, you almost forget it’d ever harm you. (but don’t be fooled)
What we look for today are some of the cheeky robots they’ve made and the “Whys” behind the designs too.

P.S. The image on the top is sourced from Morning brew. And all the gifs below link to the apt Youtube video. Hit them to watch in full!

Handle

A literal handle. That can move around. This robot is a mobile hand carrier that has two legs. But both of them have wheels. Effectively, I’d call it a skater robot. But unlike us with skates… being faster but more vulnerable to falls. These huge wheels on legs combine the rough-terrain capabilities of legs with the efficiency of wheels.
The form factor allows the handle to have human-like space requirements. The robot performs real-time superior balancing using its bee-like tail. Superior because unlike us, its legs are wheels.

Boston Dynamics' Handle

Why this?
The robot is made to transport things around in a small area. Which a human can totally do. But unlike humans, they don’t get tired. Although I do think it looks a bit slower than what a forklift car can carry on flatlands.

Cheetah

Easy guess by the name. It’s the Boston dynamics’ solution for the specific situation which assumes Usain Bolt could be a criminal and something has to be able to catch him in narrow roads.

The robotic cheetah, unlike the real one probably can run for longer and listen to humans’ orders (for now).
While Boston Dynamics’ Cheetah with its 28.3 mph sprint speed is nowhere as fast as a wild cheetah (60 - 75 mph), but it has out-paced the fastest human for sure.

This video of Cheetah running on a treadmill should be of interest.
Boston Dynamics' Cheetah

Atlas

Atlas is one of the two most recent and best-built machines from the company. The other one being Spot, a four-legged pet.

“The world’s most dynamic humanoid robot” as per the makers. And I haven’t seen one two-legged robot that can do parkour, and even backflip. And that becomes even more amazing when you see how fat it is. (No, I’m not fat-shaming. I’m fat promoting!)

Parkour video gif
gif: Atlas doing backflip. Click on it to watch on Youtube

So anyway, with a height of 1.5m, and 80 KGs of weight, you’d want to see how close to real-life human-like movements it handles. Just watch this video right here. (PS. Walking on Snow is kinda complex and I did not realize as much until saw this Atlas trying to move around like a kid)

Spot

The latest and the most popular from the most popular robot maker. Why? Easy, it resembles the design of a dog.

But another reason would be that it’s pretty sexy for a robot, Prolly the skinniest of all these above.
What can it do?
Carry things around. Map a location (very helpful when creating a 3d model for a real object or place. The spot can build a computer model for building (pun intended) as it explores the area)

But the cost of $75,000 for a robot dog that can carry up to 14kgs around and has 90 minutes of work span in a single charge doesn’t sound like a laudable deal. Does it?

But can your dog do this?

spot does dance