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Residents of Cape Town were treated to sights of a robot dog walking through the CBD as Dwyka Mining Services showcased Boston Dynamic’s Spot.
Dwyka Mining, the authorized reseller of the robot in South Africa, showcased Spot’s abilties at the Mining Indaba 2022.
Part of this showcase included a mile-long walk from the V&A Waterfront to the CTICC, where the Indaba was hosted.
“Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data ‘on the go’ by extending our remote sensing capability to ‘smell’ for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting,” said Rethabile Letlala, Operations Director of Dwyka Mining Services.
Letlala piloted Spot during the mile-long walk. Spot was equipped with a Maestro gas sensor, which can detect hazardous gases in an environment. This demonstrated one of the payloads that can be attached to the robot.
Paired with the robot’s ability to navigate uneven terrain, climb stairs and inclines, and enter a variety of walking modes — such as crouching — the technology has industrial applications for navigating hazardous environments.
How does Spot the robot dog work?
Spot requires an operator, who can pilot the robot from a mobile control device at around a 30m range or remotely via Wi-Fi.
However, through software designed to work with the robot, it can also be programmed to perform automated functions or patrols.
Different sensors and devices can also be attached to Spot, depending on the data-capturing tasks or inspections that the owners want it to complete.
With the ability to travel at around 5km/h, the robot is also able to move around quickly. During the walk, Dwyka demonstrated Spot’s maneuverability and speed.
This demonstration included different walking modes, dodging obstacles, climbing stairs and grassy hills, and navigating through smaller spaces.
Had an interesting morning with Dwyka Mining Services where they showed off Spot the robot dog. Dwyka is the official reseller of the robotic dog in South Africa. pic.twitter.com/l66aTjRG4Y
— Megan Ellis, Tech Harpy 🧙🏻♀️ (@Megg_Ellis) May 11, 2022
By the time the four-legged robot reached the CTICC, it had attracted a small crowd interested in the novel technology.
Engaging in a mock pushup competition with a bystander and even attracting the attention of a real canine, the robot charmed onlookers with its capabilities and unique appearance.
What can Spot be used for?
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Currently, Spot is primarily aimed at customers within the mining industry who need an inspection solution that is able to travel into no-go zones and fly-low areas. These are areas that aren’t safe for people and flying drones cannot enter.
“We are excited about extracting value from ‘no-go’ and ‘fly low’ mining areas typical at the majority of narrow reef mining operations in Southern Africa where the use of enterprise GPS-denied drones become limited,” Jamie van Schoor, CEO of Dwyka Mining Services, said.
However, the reseller is also looking to expand the robot’s use-cases to a variety of other industries.
Van Schoor noted that there has been interest in the robot from a variety of sectors, including government and security. Equipped with different payloads, the robot can scan 3D environments, deliver additional camera feeds, or measure additional environmental data.
Feature image: Roy Potterill/@roywrench