Remotely operated robot herds NZ sheep

In Issue36, Video by FIEA

In recent tech events run by the Forest Industry Engineering Association we’ve profiled world leading robotics technologies that are being developed by US-based robotics company, Boston Dynamics. Their “dog-like” Spot robot can now be remotely controlled from anywhere in the world thanks to a partnership with cloud-based software platform Rocos. To demonstrate its new capabilities the US team remotely monitored the robot working on an isolated farm in New Zealand.

Boston Dynamics is slowly figuring out more and more real-world applications for its customizable Spot robot. Last month we saw Spot deployed in a Boston hospital, helping doctors remotely interface with infectious COVID-19 patients. Prior to that we have seen the robot recruited for various industrial tasks, including patrolling oil rigs and monitoring building sites.

A newly announced partnership between Boston Dynamics and Rocos, developers of a cloud-based robot operations platform, is set to dramatically expand Spot’s functionality. And to demonstrate these new capabilities, the Boston Dynamics team remotely managed Spot performing a variety of tasks on a farm in New Zealand, as shown in the video below.

“Robotics companies are producing very capable machines for achieving specific tasks,” explains David Inggs, CEO of Rocos. “The missing link is a cloud-based platform to connect, monitor and automate the activities of a fleet. With Boston Dynamics and Rocos, organizations can now design, schedule and manage inspection missions remotely.” The new software platform allows any number of Spot robots to be remotely managed. This includes the ability to not only manually teleoperate the robots, but also monitor operations and redirect new missions as needed.

Although the new announcement primarily focuses on industrial and agricultural applications, the current global pandemic has seen Spot recruited for some unexpectedly novel tasks. One pilot trial in Singapore, for example, has been testing the robot’s ability to monitor social distancing practices in public parks. As well as lowering the risk of viral exposure for park staff, Spot can broadcast messages reminding people to keep their distance from one another.

Source: (with additional editorial by FIEA)

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