It only took a quarter of a century but it’s finally here. Boston Dynamics’ very own ‘Spot’ robot is now widely available for purchase.
Nine months after its initial, limited release under the Early Adopter Program, the black and yellow bot is up for sale to any business or research facility that wants one. According to Boston Dynamics, only 150 were available on the limited release, which were all snapped up in no time, and now, the world is starting to see them being used in a variety of different situations.
A multitude of potential applications
One of the biggest difficulties Boston Dynamics has faced is advertising compelling uses to justify the high price tag attached to Spot. Releasing it to the world has essentially outsourced that task to its customers and here are just a few of the awesome uses that they have come up with.
Firstly, Quebec-based construction firm, Pomerleau, is using Spot on its 500,000-square-foot building project and saving approximately 20 hours of work per week by automating the capture of nearly 5,000 images.
Increasing data-collection efficiency and safety in Hensel Phelps’s construction of Denver International Airport’s main terminal, and automating the capture of laser scans and 360-degree images to reduce the risk of return visits and project delays is another use.
Thirdly, the robot has been used to leverage computer-vision-based anomaly detection software, reducing human risk in potentially dangerous tasks for AkerBP’s energy production facilities.
Lastly, Spot has been used to autonomously navigate tough, underground terrain with NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Team CoSTAR’s integrated autonomy, perception, and communication tools – an application that ultimately won the most recent DARPA Subterranean Challenge Competition, the Urban Circuit. It’s clear that there’s no shortage of uses, big and small, and Spot is in high demand all over the globe.
A hefty price tag
One of the main barriers to obtaining a Spot is the price tag. After applying, and if Boston Dynamic approves the application for a robot, businesses in the US can purchase the Spot Explorer Dev Kit for just $74,500, limited to two per customer. While this may seem like an exorbitant price, the customer gets a lot for their money, everything they’ll need to set up and run Spot.
- 2x Spot batteries
- A Spot charger
- A tablet controller and charger
- A robot case for storage and transportation
- A power case for the battery storage and transportation
- Python client packages for Spot API’s
- Software updates (when they’re available)
- A standard warranty
- And of course, the Spot robot itself
While it is now widely available, not everyone can just order one – there needs to be a process of approval to ensure the uses are legitimate and then, if approved, Boston Dynamics will consider a pricing plan as prices are different for enterprise, as well as educational customers.
A new era has begun
It’s finally here! Spot has landed and is being used all over the world for both menial and highly complex tasks. Not only is this robot saving time and money for its owners, but it could also potentially save human lives in the process. Completing dangerous and otherwise deadly tasks has put people at risk before, having Spot do them, almost entirely removes that risk. While it’s just for businesses and educational institutions currently, it won’t be long before a different option is available to the public for personal use, i.e. having some fun!