The robot was seen at one point on the floor of the Ford Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan, where the Blue Oval was using it to map the place in light of some retooling it needed done there.
Since it was commercially introduced a year ago, Spot even went inside Chernobyl, where the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority deployed it to read some radiation levels. It was used inside a high-voltage substation in Boston for National Grid inspection purposes, and even got deployed for military exercises alongside 80 students from the French École Militaire Interarmes (EMIA).
That’s quite a lot of activity in a very short timeframe, which amounts according to Boston Dynamics to the robot having “logged thousands of miles in industrial facilities and on construction sites around the world.” Enough data to see what can be improved, and give birth to an update of sorts.
The update allows Spot to do some things better and faster. It can now take the shortest path to its destination with a simple selection of the mission it is meant to perform, it can replan around blocked paths, and can even be programmed to perform its duties after working hours.
The CAM+ pan-tilt-zoom camera Spot is fitted with can now be used to “capture the same image from the same angle every time,” for whatever purpose, thanks to a new scene-based camera alignment feature.
Once a mission is completed, Spot can now “automatically push data into your existing systems” and can connect to platforms like AWS, Azure, IBM Maximo, and other similar systems. Also, a web-based remote operation application is on deck to help customers with scheduling missions and the reviewing of the data collected while on the job.
The thing can carry 14 kg (31 pounds) of equipment, which can be either pre-built or unique solutions. It navigates its way thanks to 360 degrees perception, and can move over loose gravel, grass, curbs and stairs. Thanks to the Software Development Kit it sells with, it allows operators to create their own programs and controls.
And, apparently, the more it works, the better can get at its job.