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❈ Boston Dynamics' Robot Dog Gets an Arm Attachment, Self-Charging Capabilities

IT Security Nachrichten hardware.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After a year of working with businesses and getting feedback, Boston Dynamics is launching a new Spot revision, a long-awaited arm attachment, and some new features. Now, with the new "Spot Arm" -- a six-degrees-of-freedom gripper that can be mounted to the front of the robot -- Spot can actually do stuff and manipulate the environment around it. Boston Dynamics' latest video shows an arm-equipped Spot opening doors, picking up laundry, dragging around a cinderblock, and flipping switches and valves. Since this is a Boston Dynamics video, there's also a ton of fun footage like three Spots playing jump rope, planting a tree, and drawing the Boston Dynamics logo with a piece of chalk. The arm is not just a siloed device on top of Spot; any arm movement is coordinated with the whole body of the robot, just as a human's arm works. Boston Dynamics pointed to a 2013 video of the (much bigger) BigDog robot heaving a cinderblock across the room. This advanced "lift with your legs, put your back into it" whole-body movement is the core of Boston Dynamics' arm locomotion. In the palm of the gripper is a 4K color camera, a ToF (Time of Flight) sensor for depth imaging, and LEDs for light. The camera is great to not only see what you're trying to pick up but also as a movable inspection camera that offers a lot more flexibility compared to the stationary face- and back-mounted cameras. The arm weighs 17.6 lbs (8kg) and with a half-meter extension can lift 11 lbs (5kg). The gripper's peak clamp force is 130N. That's far below the average human adult grip strength of 300N and puts Spot in the range of a frail senior citizen, but it's good enough to turn a doorknob. It's especially impressive that in this video, Spot demoed opening a smooth, round doorknob, not an easier-to-open ADA-compliant door handle, which is what most robot/door interactions focus on. It can even make sure the door doesn't hit it in the butt on the way out. Just like for regular movement, controlling the arm via the tablet uses a user-friendly "supervised autonomy" system. You tell the robot what to grab, and it will figure out how to grab it using all the joints of the arm and legs. There's even a special "door opening" mode, where the user points at the doorknob, enters which side of the door the hinge is on, and Spot will do the rest. There's also an API for the arm control, allowing developers to make their own control interface. There's also a new version of Spot called "Spot Enterprise," which features the ability to self-charge via an included charging dock, where Spot can park itself on the charging dock when it is low on power. It takes about two hours to fully charge.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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