In this blog, you will learn how Boston Dynamics will enhance AI with the help of its wonderful robots. You will also gain awareness about the founding, growth, and evolution of this amazing firm.
AI is one of the most exciting fields for a young company to venture. Robotics is perhaps the most significant feature of AI. One very promising upcoming robot company is Boston Dynamics,
which has been founded by MIT graduate Marc Raibert. It was incepted in the year 1992. It was purchased by Japanese SoftBank group on 8 June 2017. Due to pioneering products developed by
Marc Raibert and his team, Boston Dynamics is among the front runners in the field of robotics.
Now, let us introduce you to the amazing products which will demonstrate as to how Boston Dynamics can change your life.
Big Dog is one of the earliest robots, devised by the firm. This pioneering Boston Dynamics robot was created in collaboration with Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Foster-Miller, and the HarvardUniversity Concord Field Station. The Big Dog robot had four legs, which allowed it to move across surfaces which would defeat wheels. The original design was supposed to carry 150 kgs with a soldier at 6.5 km/hr and climbing tough terrains at inclines up to 35 degrees. It can pull lorry. It is a dynamic quadruped robot which runs, walks and takes heavy loads. It has a height of 125 cm, width 30 cm, and length 100 cm. Movement is controlled by a computer which gets input from the robots' sensors. Balance and navigation are managed by the control system. There are 50 sensors on the robot. These quantify the acceleration and altitude of the body, force, and motion of joint actuators and engine speed, hydraulic pressure, and temperature inside the robot’s internal engine. Low level control and high level control both are controlled by an onboard computer. The robot is powered by one cylinder, two stroke 15 brake horsepower go kart engine, operating at 9000 rpm. A hydraulic pump is driven by an engine, which drives the hydraulic leg actuators. However, Big Dog has been discontinued in December 2015, due to the high level of noise, it creates.
Cheetah is a robot with four feet which runs at 45 km/hr as of August 2012. As of 2018, the robot can climb stairs. It weighs only 20 pounds. It can perform 360 degrees backflip, from a standing position. The Cheetah is designed with modularity in mind. All of the robot’s legs have three similar low cost electric motors, using the off shelf parts. Each motor can be changed for a new one. For jumping, the robot estimates the incoming obstacle’s height and distance. The robots understand the best position from which to jump. Next, it adjusts its stride to land before the obstacle. Finally, it exerts sufficient force to push over and up. There is an algorithm to plan the robot’s path based on data from LIDAR. LIDAR is a visual system which uses reflections from the laser to map terrain. Cheetah runs on a high speed treadmill in the lab, where a hydraulic pump powers it. A boom like a device makes it running in the treadmill center. A new generation robot has come WildCat has come, which is designed to operate without any external support.
Protection Ensemble Test Mannequin also is known as PETMAN in short, is a bipedal device. It is made for testing chemical protection suits. It has the distinction of being the first anthropomorphic robot which moves dynamically like an actual human being. It can walk, do push ups and squats. It is developed to check military gear which is resistant to chemicals. The robot consists of ingress / express support, control room, integrated IPE mannequin and exposure chamber. It weighs 80 kgs and is six feet in height. The robot uses articulated legs with shock absorbers and hydraulic actuation for shock absorbers. Apart from testing chemicals, PETMAN is to be used for emergency services like firefighting or digging through radioactive waste.
Another amazing product from this robot company is known as LittleDog. It is a small quadruped robot which is used as a testbed for other institutions. The robot has four legs, which are powered by three electric motors. The legs have a large motion range. This robot is capable of climbing and dynamic locomotion gaits. There is an onboard computer which does actuator control, communications and sensing. It has sensors which measure joint angles, body orientation, foot/ground contact, and motor currents. Boston Dynamics Robot API is a control program which is used for accessing the robot. Data logging support remote operation and wireless communication support data analysis. The robot runs on rechargeable lithium polymer batteries, which allows it to run for a half an hour without interruption.
One of the amazing examples of how Boston Dynamics can change your life is the bipedal humanoid robot known as Agile Anthropomorphic Robot, popularly known as Atlas. The Atlas robot is 175 cm tall and weights 82 kg. It is designed for performing a variety of tasks like rescue tasks and search tasks. Atlas has recently become a backflipping cyborg supersoldier. It is performing incredible backflips and jumps. The robot's hardware uses 3D printing to save space and weight, leading to a compact robot with high strength to weight ratio and a large workspace. Range sensing, stereo vision, and other sensors give the robot to control objects in its environment and travel on difficult terrain. It keeps the balance while being pushed. It is using two handed mobile manipulations. It can perform various complex tasks like
a) Drive a utility vehicle.
b) When there is rubble, it can travel dismounted.
c) If there is rubbish at the entry, the robot will remove it.
d) It will open the door to enter the building.
e) The robot will travel in an industrial walkway and climb the ladder.
f) The robot can break a concrete panel using a tool.
g) It can turn on the valve and can connect a fire hose to a standpipe.
The firm designed a new robot called SpotMini which is a four legged canine. It weighs 25 kg. The firm announced that it plans to sale SpotMini in 2019, which will scale production. This robot will handle objects, will climb stairs and operate in homes, offices and outdoors. It is all electric and can function for about one and a half hour without charging. It is the quietest robot designed by the firm. The robot has perception sensors. The sensor consists of depth cameras, stereo cameras, position/force sensors in the limbs, an IMU. These sensors can aid with mobile manipulation and navigation.
It is a research robot which stands 6.5 ft tall, jumps 4 feet vertically and travels at 9 mph. It uses electric power for operating both hydraulic and electric actuators, with a 15 mile range on one battery charge. It uses many of the same balance, dynamics and mobile manipulation principles found in biped and quadruped robots. The handle has wheels and legs which delivers small footprint material handling solutions and can pick goods weighing over 30 pounds. Its design teaches on how to tackle depalletizing, pallet building and truck unloading tasks in the warehouse.
Legged Squad Support System known as LS3 in short, was a military robot. It can be used to fight in all kinds of environments like hot, cold, wet, snow, etc. It was in the shape of the horse and could carry 180 kg of equipment, negotiate terrain, maneuver and operate quietly. Inside the robot, a stereo vision system which has a pair of stereo cameras fitted into the head of the robot was integrated with LIDAR. This enabled it to record intelligence and follow human lead gathered through its human camera.
PICK is the latest in the long line of innovations by Boston Dynamics. It is a deep learning solution designed for robotic depalletizing. The system is easy to configure using a GUI. It combines 3D and 2D sensing, to locate a variety of boxes and intertwines between motion and vision. Consequently, picking rates are the highest.
Rhex is a robot with six legs. It has high mobility on difficult terrain. It has independent legs which produce gaits for moving it over terrain using minimum input. This robot can travel over rock fields, sand, railroad tracks, stairways, telephone poles, and sand. Rear facing and front cameras give a view of the robot. The robot has a sealed body which is completely functional in muddy, swampy, wet weather conditions. This robot capabilities has been validated in government testing labs.
So, it is indeed an exciting time to be in the field of robotics development. Though currently, many companies are engaged in creating robots, it is evident that Boston Dynamics is the leader of the pack. This is due to their long standing expertise in the field of robotics, which has given them a huge lead over their competitors.