The presentation of the robot SpotMini from Boston Dynamics

    This video is where Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics, talks about robots: BigDog, Spot, SpotMini, Atlas. Based on this video and other videos where Marc spoke, I will briefly describe the technology of robots and the future plans of the company.

    Marc Raibert founded the company Boston Dynamics 25 years ago, but it has not yet released its robots into production. The founder explains this by saying that the company has been working all this time for the rapid development beyond the horizon of the capabilities of the current robotics. Nevertheless, in their robots, the company reached the level when it became possible to make a small electric robot on four legs capable of autonomously moving over rough terrain and buildings. Therefore, they are going to start mass production of the robot SpotMini in the middle of 2019 in the amount of 1000 pieces per year.

    At the moment, already 10 robots are testing potential customers, another 100 will be delivered within a year for tests.

    The robot will be sold as a platform on which you can install the arm. It has an API with which third-party developers can write their applications and use the main functionality of the robot. There are several demonstrations of such applications in the video.

    It is understood that Boston Dinamics laid the basic functionality in the robot and the operator of the robot or a third-party developer can give only high-level commands like go there with such speed, serve the can of cola.

    Marc claims that the robot can act alongside the person and is essentially a collaborative one, which he justifies in the video that the robot weighs only 27 kilograms and therefore cannot harm a person.

    SpotMini is able to detect a jar of coke, capture and transfer to another place or give it to people. The photo above is just an example of an application for a robot that performs such a task.

    Also interesting is the story about the technology used in the Atlas robot. The initial weight of the robot was reduced from 170 kilograms to 75 with the same power supply. At the same time, the robot has become much more agile and more capable. This was achieved through new design methods and 3d printing. The video shows the foot of the robot printed on the printer, which weighs several times less with the same strength.

    Especially worth noting about the power plant. In the video, Marc says that they managed to fit into it: an engine, a pump, a filter, a collector and a thermal shirt with a battery in the robot's belly, while the weight of the whole structure was 5 kilograms with a power of 5 kilowatts. Again, he says that this would not have been possible without advanced design techniques and 3D printing.

    In another video, he talks about the Handle robot, it is planned as a logistics robot capable of carrying loads quickly over long distances, since instead of legs it has wheels.

    A little reverse engineering from me:

    In the video, Marc Raibert says that the robot uses 5 camera modules, two in front and one left, right and back. They apparently refused a laser lidar in a commercial version. The photo shows that the camera module is somehow non-standard, you can only see 5 cameras in the module, perhaps several of them are an infrared camera with a receiver. You can also see that the two cameras are small and at an angle to each other. If someone knows what kind of module write in the comments. From all this we can conclude that the robot can only do with stereo cameras, possibly with an infrared depth camera. The positioning and localization algorithm is most likely a visual SLAM, which is not clear. In general, the company Boston Dinamics is quite closed and talks little about the software of its robots, but on the forums, people working in it write that they have their own proprietary code, mostly in C ++ and some in Python. There is a mention of using Drake. Perhaps in the Atlas robot, ROS was partially used in the competition.

    On the mechanics and calculation of the movement of the limbs of robots, Marc Raibert’s research has been reaching since the founding of the laboratory on the movement of the legs in 1980 and writing the book Legged Robots that Balance in 1986. Also from the MIT research that I described in the last article on a blind cheetah robot, it can be concluded that similar methods are used in SpotMini since Marc Raibert was a professor at MIT.

    In fact, this will be the first fairly functional and sophisticated robot that will be used on a daily basis with a person. As long as he can only grab a jar of cola and women's bags, then there will be more :)

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