Robot in the dog house: Spot's fancy new digs

Mobile deployment units a growing trend for inspection- and surveillance-oriented robotics.

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Spot, the sometimes controversial, always impressive autonomous quadruped from Boston Dynamics, has a cool new house. That's thanks to a company called Percepto, which created a smart home for Spot that increases the robot's utility in industrial and inspection scenarios.

Though Spot recently got kicked off the NYPD after becoming something of a symbol of technocratic authoritarianism, the platform has legions of fans in a more prosaic but practical sector: infrastructure inspection. In this context, Spot is more like a terrestrial drone, a roving autonomous sensor platform that inspects industrial and public works infrastructure with a pace and endurance that would be hard for any human team to match.

The smart home is like a dog kennel for the robot, safeguarding it while it charges in the field in between missions.

"Early this year, we released a charging dock for Spot, unlocking the opportunity for customers to deploy remote inspection solutions with Spot. The Percepto Base for Spot widely expands the potential use cases for Spot by offering superb protection from the elements," said Michael Perry, Vice President of Business Development at Boston Dynamics. "The enclosure, combined with Percepto AIM, provides our mutual clients the ability to automatically and autonomously deploy Spot in isolated but vital locations regardless of the weather conditions."

Florida Power & Light, which has used Percepto's Sparrow drone for a number of years, is one of the first companies to showcase the integration of Spot along with other robots for autonomous outdoor remote inspection as part of their hurricane recovery plan. The robots are managed by Percepto's Autonomous Inspection and Monitoring (AIM) platform. The AIM software controls open and closure of the Base without the need for on-site staff to man the robot.

Percepto's version of Spot is equipped with a dual payload of 4K and thermal cameras, as well as Percepto's onboard module enabling live streaming during missions via secure LTE. Along with its Sparrow drone, Percepto is betting the increased capabilities for its Spot deployment will give customers remote air and ground inspection capabilities in easily deployable packages.

"Percepto are proud to build upon our autonomous inspection offering that began with Sparrow, the most widely deployed drone-in-a-box in the world. The Base for Spot uses the same sophisticated and trusted AIM software to integrate remote autonomous inspections from the sky to the ground, inside and out, for a holistic and accurate picture in real time," said Dor Abuhasira, CEO and Co-founder Percepto. "A team of inspection robots on site without the need for human supervision is the future of safer, more reliable inspection and we are excited to add further solutions to our offering."