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Boston Dynamics' Robot Dog Spot Can Now Get Through Closed Doors All By Itself

Major updates revealed today also include an onboard kill switch to stop the robot in its tracks and features geared towards industrial inspections.

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Available for purchase since 2020, Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot dog, Spot, has been mostly deployed as an autonomous inspection and exploration tool. Today the company revealed several updates to Spot that will further improve its ability to carry out those types of tasks, including finally being able to use handles to open doors all by itself.i

According to Boston Dynamics, there are now over 1,000 Spot robots in active use around the world in over 35 countries, but the new updates to the robot announced today are a move to help further expand Spot’s adoption by making it easier and safer to use, and much better at navigating a wider range of difficult terrain.


Most of the updates will appeal to those who’ve come to rely on Spot for routine inspections in industrial settings, including a software add-on allowing Spot to not only snap pictures of analog gauges like a pressure dial, but to actually take its own readings using computer vision and share that data without requiring a human operator to read the remotely captured images.

Spot Levels Up | Boston Dynamics

Finally, although Boston Dynamics has previously demonstrated Spot using an articulated arm and hand accessory to open doors, it’s a feature that’s been dependent on a human operator using a remote control to manipulate the arm. This has meant that for Spot to patrol a facility autonomously, it either still needs a human operator monitoring its progress to assist with doors remotely, or for those doors to be intentionally left open, which isn’t always an option. Boston Dynamics will soon be equipping Spots across the globe with the articulated arm accessory to open and navigate doors all by themselves, although it’s initially being introduced as a beta feature while the robot still learns to master that particular skill.


Spot’s ability to monitor temperatures using thermal cameras is also being improved, including notifications when equipment is getting too hot or too cold past a preset range, as well as acoustic imaging using a sound-monitoring payload that can automatically detect invisible air and gas leaks in systems that operate under high pressure. Spot can’t take action when a problem arises, but it can help detect issues early on through regular maintenance patrols, allowing small problems to be addressed before they become catastrophic ones.

Although Spot is designed to be a 24-hour replacement for human inspectors, in many situations, the robot is still operating alongside humans doing other jobs, so Boston Dynamics has introduced a new audio and visual warning system to help make its presence known, and to make it easier to understand what the robot’s doing.

In addition to a buzzer and a speaker, Spot will now come with five warning lights that will flash green during standard operation, flash amber when people should be more careful around it, like when Spot is climbing stairs or crossing through a busy intersection in a facility, and flash white while it’s taking readings for an inspection.


Spot is also being upgraded with a physical emergency stop button on its back, which was previously only accessible as a software feature by remote operators. The switch will cause the robot to stop everything it’s doing, collapse to the floor, and flash red warning lights.

To make the four-legged robot even better at autonomously navigating a variety of terrain and surfaces, Spot’s ability to catch itself during a slip has been improved. When traversing slippery wet floors, a new crawling gait is also being introduced, where the robot slowly moves forward, limited to one leg movement at a time, while lowering its body closer to the floor to improve its balance.