Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot has been updated and offers more advanced skills and new features.
Spot Release 2.0, launching today, includes improvements to navigation, autonomy, sensing, user programmability, payload integration, communications, new APIs for developers, and additional payload support, among other improvements. Using these enhancements, users and application developers will have access to a broader variety of autonomous behaviors on Spot.
Spot’s ability to perform autonomous navigation such as patrols and inspections has been expanded. In version 1.x, this capability was a tablet-only feature known as Autowalk, but in the 2.0 release, developers have access to the high-level autonomous navigation behavior behind Autowalk. Applications can now issue Spot high-level navigation commands such as "go to a waypoint" and track where the robot is located on a larger map. Developers can also record, edit, and upload maps to the robot.
The Missions API provides a behavior tree-based system for programming autonomous actions. It works with the GraphNav API to allow users to fully integrate Spot with code for custom sensors and command sources.
Spot Release 2.0 also offers improved stair reliability, including on open risers and grated stairs. The robot's performance on slippery surfaces has been also improved.
Payloads can now use the Spot API to automatically inform the robot of their physical properties and the services hosted onboard. This enables external development of self-registering payloads that do not require any installation configuration beyond being attached to the robot.
The Spot CAM payload enables improved situational awareness. It includes a 360° spherical color camera and an optional PTZ (Pan-Tilt-Zoom) camera or LIDAR to significantly enhance perception range for autonomous operation and data capture. Release 2.0 adds API access to the Spot CAM.
In addition, Spot CORE is a ready-to-use on-board computer solution that provides users compute power on robot. It comes with Ubuntu and the Spot SDK, but users can reconfigure any way they want.
Spot GXP is a lightweight power and networking solution for users looking to integrate their own payloads. It provides regulated power with current protection and a standard ethernet port.
Other features of the Spot Release 2.0 include:
- Added support for mDNS makes it easier to find robots on your network and reduces the overhead of maintaining host files and DNS entries.
- Robot communications revamped to provide more responsive connection over channels with significant interference or packet loss.
- Improved safe stop behavior. When the user cuts power, Spot will drop to the ground in a more controlled manner.
- WorldObject and LocalGrid APIs: Users can access more of the information Spot senses. The WorldObject API shows objects discovered in the world such as fiducials. The LocalGrid API shows navigation information near Spot, such as terrain height.
- New Programming Examples and Documentation: The updated Spot SDK greatly expands the documentation and programming examples to help users learn how to develop on Spot.
Looking ahead, Boston Dynamics' executives expect commercial availability of Spot’s head-mounted arm to happen at some point this year, which’ll enable all kinds of crazy new applications.
The cost of the Spot robot is still unknown, though the company says it is working on getting the cost down.
If you’re one of the hundred or so commercial users who have a Spot, the 2.0 update is available immediately.