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Robots: Hyundai is using Boston Dynamics’ Spot to patrol its motor plants in South Korea

Spot turns watchdog! Hyundai is using Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot to patrol its motor plants in South Korea

  • Hyundai has upgraded Spot with new sensors, AI and autonomous navigation
  • The robot will work to monitor factory safety and support night security patrols
  • Spot will first be trialled in one factory before being deployed to work in others 
  • Hyundai purchased a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics back in June this year


Hyundai has a new site safety officer at one of its Kia assembly factories in South Korea — Spot, Boston Dynamic’s famous and oft-dancing robotic dog.

In fact, the ‘Factory Safety Service Robot’ has been upgraded with applied artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation and various remote sensing technologies.

The robot can also be taken control of remotely and securely, allowing office personnel to observe and survey parts of the factory from a central location.

Starting with a pilot operation in one factory, the augmented Spot will support late-night security patrols and create a safer environment for plant workers.

Should this trial prove to be successful, Hyundai has said that it will look to expand the robot’s patrol areas and consider deployment to additional sites.

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Hyundai hasa new site safety officer at one of its Kia assembly factories in South Korea — Spot, Boston Dynamic’s famous and oft-dancing robotic dog, pictured

Hyundai has equipped the robot with a thermal camera and three-dimensional LiDAR sensing technology which allows it to see people, determine whether doors are open or closed (as pictured) monitor high-temperature systems and detect fire hazards

Hyundai has equipped the robot with a thermal camera and three-dimensional LiDAR sensing technology which allows it to see people, determine whether doors are open or closed (as pictured) monitor high-temperature systems and detect fire hazards

THE FACTORY SAFETY SERVICE ROBOT

Hyundai has upgraded Spot with a thermal camera and three-dimensional LiDAR sensing technology.

This allows it to see people, determine whether doors are open or closed, monitor high-temperature systems and detect fire hazards.

Should it detect a danger to factory personnel or infrastructure, the modified Spot can alerts managers via its secure online interface.

This also enables the robot to be remote-controlled, allowing office personnel to observe and survey parts of the factory from a central location.

‘The Factory Safety Service Robot is the first collaboration project with Boston Dynamics,’ said Hyundai Motor Group Robotics Lab head Dong Jin Hyun.

‘The Robot will help detect risks and secure people’s safety in industrial sites.

‘We will also continue to create smart services that detect dangers at industrial sites and help support a safe work environment through continuous collaborations with Boston Dynamics.’

Hyundai has equipped the robot with a thermal camera and three-dimensional LiDAR sensing technology which allows it to see people, determine whether doors are open or closed, monitor high-temperature systems and detect fire hazards.

Should it detect a danger to factory personnel or infrastructure, the modified Spot can send alerts to managers via its online remote-control interface.

One advantage of the robot over conventional security guards is that it can navigate through tight spaces more easily and allow sight onto otherwise blind areas. 

Moreover, Hyundai said that it can connect multiple Factory Safety Service Robots to the same control system to patrol numerous zones simultaneously. 

The 'Factory Safety Service Robot' has been upgraded with applied artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation and various remote sensing technologies

The ‘Factory Safety Service Robot’ has been upgraded with applied artificial intelligence, autonomous navigation and various remote sensing technologies

Starting with a pilot operation in one factory, the augmented Spot will support late-night security patrols and create a safer environment for plant workers. Should this trial prove to be successful, Hyundai has said that it will look to expand the robot's patrol areas and consider deployment to additional sites

Starting with a pilot operation in one factory, the augmented Spot will support late-night security patrols and create a safer environment for plant workers. Should this trial prove to be successful, Hyundai has said that it will look to expand the robot’s patrol areas and consider deployment to additional sites

The robot can also be taken control of remotely and securely, allowing office personnel to observe and survey parts of the factory from a central location

The robot can also be taken control of remotely and securely, allowing office personnel to observe and survey parts of the factory from a central location

The announcement of Spot’s new vocation follows Hyundai’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics back in June of this year.

The automotive manufacturer purchased a 80 per cent stake in the robotics firm from original owner SoftBank, which has retained the remaining 20 per cent stake through its affiliates. For the sale, Boston Dynamics was valued at $1.1 billion.

Hyundai Motor Group has announced that it is looking to advance robotic technologies to improve their industrial sites, develop self-driving vehicles and — in the future — Urban Air Mobility solutions like drones and personal air vehicles.

The announcement of Spot's new vocation follows Hyundai's acquisition of a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics back in June of this year. The automotive manufacturer purchased a 80 per cent stake in the robotics firm from original owner SoftBank, which has retained the remaining 20 per cent stake through its affiliates

The announcement of Spot’s new vocation follows Hyundai’s acquisition of a controlling interest in Boston Dynamics back in June of this year. The automotive manufacturer purchased a 80 per cent stake in the robotics firm from original owner SoftBank, which has retained the remaining 20 per cent stake through its affiliates

One advantage of the robot over conventional security guards is that it can navigate through tight spaces more easily and allow sight onto otherwise blind areas

One advantage of the robot over conventional security guards is that it can navigate through tight spaces more easily and allow sight onto otherwise blind areas

BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT

Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.

The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.

The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.

‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.

It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.

SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’ 

SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house. 

In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.

There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.

It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up. 

‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.

‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. 

‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. 

‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’ 

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