Boston Dynamics – Use Cases, SWOT Analysis & Future Scope
This article highlights the business use cases related to Logistics, Supply Chain and how can it be used for warfare, space missions, followed by a SWOT Analysis and future trends.
Military-Defense Use Case – Parkour Atlas Robot
- Parkour Atlas is a Humanoid Robot that uses its whole body – legs, arms, and torso to perform a sequence of actions.
- The actions are created in the robot using a particular development process, which is as follows:
- First, an optimization algorithm is used that transforms a high-level information/description of every action into easier reference motions.
- These actions are then tracked and mapped by the atlas using a prediction controller that smoothly blends one action to another.
- Using this the company can get a success rate in its movement of approximately 80%.
- Here the controlling software uses the body which includes its legs, arms, and torso to gather the energy and strength to come over the obstacles and jump through it or move quickly over the steps without breaking the pace.
- Atlas also uses some part of computer vision as a part of its movement to locate itself to the environment in which it is operating so that it can approach its target accurately in any terrains.
- Atlas is designed to operate in all conditions whether it is indoor or outdoor. It is designed and specialized for remote operations.
- It also has sensors attached to its body and legs which helps it to balance and stand properly and also move properly and mimic as a human person.
- Moreover, it also has stereo sensors placed in its head which helps it to assess the environment and find out the obstacles in the same and help to avoid them thus helping in smoother navigation.
- Moving back towards its usage in the Military, Parkour Atlas can be and is trained to mimic a human person. It can be trained for rescue operations, shooting expertise, etc.
- Proper Training of the robot for various purposes can make it useful in the army efficiently. For example, it can be trained for rescue operations. In a situation like war or an epidemic, the army officials may not be able to reach certain places but it is not in the case of a robot. A robot has far more reach than a human. It can easily reach places where a human cannot if it is trained properly. Thus, being a source of help during the rescue operations.
- Another example can be a situation where it can be trained properly for shooting skills such that even if the robot is not properly standing or even if it is distracted by other means it should be able to shoot the aim with perfection. Consider a situation of war where an army officer is trying to aim a particular thing. But due to continuous gun fires and grenade explosions, it is not able to aim properly due to obvious distraction reasons. But for the same situation if the robot is trained and made so accurate that it could shoot and aim the targets in such situations too would lead to a great opportunity.
- But with opportunities comes the bad effects too about which we will discuss in the latter part of this section.
Logistics Use case – Pick Robot + Handle Robot:
- Remember I had mentioned acquiring a start-up name Kinema Systems by Boston Dynamics in April 2019 about which we will discuss in this part of the section.
- Before actually moving towards the logistics use case let us understand the need, importance, and challenge of robots in the logistics industry.
- Consider the following situation: You and I while working in a warehouse are particularly suited in picking up the boxes and move them to the places where they need to be placed as our eyes, hands, and brain are used in identifying discrete objects and figuring out what is the best.
- But we do have a limitation on our efficiency and productivity. Thus, there comes a need for a robot that could increase the efficiency and productivity of the company.
- But achieving this with the help of the robot is not that easy. Robots need a little more information than human beings, a little more coaxing and that’s where Kinema Systems comes into the picture.
- Kinema Systems is into the building of arm robots along with Boston Dynamics called as Pick.
- The robot helps in moving the boxes from the Storage Keeping Unit belt onto the conveyer belt.
- Moreover, it uses a deep learning 3-D vision system which allows it to pick up even titled boxes as a series of the camera allows it to process and apply intelligence on how to maneuver it and align the boxes on the conveyer belt in such a way that the labels on all the boxes are pointing in the same direction on the conveyer belt.
- Moreover, since it is a robot it does not have weight lifting restrictions like a human being. And is capable of moving boxes more easily and efficiently as compared to a human being.
- This robot is also capable of careful placement of more fragile boxes onto the conveyer belt from the SKU palette using an additional sensor attached to it.
- The computer vision also allows the arm to move the boxes of a single SKU palette first and then move to another palette. Thus, it capable of working with both single and mixed SKU palette as per our requirements.
- There is one more robot alike PICK which can be used for logistics that is called a HANDLE. The handle is a 6.5” tall robot resting on two legs which have rotating wheels on its end.
- The main difference between PICK and HANDLE is that pick is capable of a static movement of boxes and logistics due to its arm shaped static design whereas HANDLE being on legs given a movement capability can be used for moving goods from one place to another with no restrictions related to moving from one warehouse to another.
Inspection in Industries – SPOT DOG
SPOT DOG Description
- What was the need for the SPOT DOG to come into existence?
- Just try to figure out answers to the following set of questions:
- Can robots handle the real world?
- Can robots go where people go?
- Can robots work together?
- Can robots take a hit?
- Can it recover?
- Can they dance?
- Can they help?
- Can they play?
- Can they inspect?
- Can they monitor?
- Can they perform?
- Can they document?
- Cab they rebuild?
- Can they explore?
- Thus, this led to the development of a robot-like SPOT by Boston Dynamics.
- SPOT is a four-legged dog-shaped robot.
- The main motive for the development of this type of robot was to reach and navigate to the rough terrains easily which not accessible by human beings easily.
- Moving towards one of its use-case that is Inspection Purpose.
- OIL-GAS Industry Inspection + Documentation
- Using the spotted dog, it is easily manageable to create documentation of the whole inspection of the industry using the camera that is mounted onto its head. They act as their eyes and helps us inspect the whole industry hassle-free.
- Moreover, it can also be used to detect if any emergency fires take place and help us save time and the industry. It can also reach to places where humans cannot reach easily.
- Finally documenting the whole scenario of the industry for future use.
The company has a lot of videos with the public stating and claiming the various benefits of these robots in the real world. Let’s discuss the same.
- First of all, these robots act as the third eyes of human beings which help us keep a constant eye on what is happening in the industry or the world.
- They overcome one of the major drawbacks of human beings is that we are not available 24×7. But robots can be made available 24×7. Thus, increasing efficiency and consistency.
- The speed of working is also increased by a great factor which is but obvious when a human is compared in front of a machine.
- We can also aim for improved perfection of the results for the work done over the period.
- Thus, in short, leading to an increase in productivity.
- All the above-stated benefits are good and real but the fact cannot be ignored that there are other bad consequences too that may act as a weakness too for these robots.
- With increased and uncontrolled use of these robots may lead to various negative impacts too.
- Financial Impact
- One of the major impacts would be on the jobs of the people.
- Though the usage of such robots may give rise to new skilled jobs too it may lead to a decline in the number of workers needed by the company. Thus, leading to a job crisis.
- A threat to humans itself:
- Consider two situations:
- First, where these robots are capable of doing endless things and go into the hands of the wrong people it may lead to devastation and destruction.
- Even if we debate the above point but there is one more point that needs to kept in mind while using these robots. These robots need to be controlled by humans and not the other way. It should not happen that the robots become harsh onto the humans itself. There was a video on YouTube where the robot is trained to shoot and is also trained to rescue people. But when it is being continuously hammered and hits by the members of its team, it gets frustrating and backfires onto the members of its team which is fed as its friends in its system and runs away after that. Thus, increased intelligence into the robots may have serious effects too.
Future Scope / Opportunities:
- We all know that the future scope of robotics is too high and can be used in every industry that you want to in one or the other way and improve the efficiency and productivity of the company.
- Some of the industries as mentioned earlier are Defence, Logistics while others include Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Disaster Management, etc.
- Moreover, according to a recent blog post by Boston Dynamics, it was claimed that the robot was already used in the Healthcare industry where it was used for remote inspection of COVID-19 patients along with remote delivery of medication without the patients coming in direct contact with the doctors with the help of the camera and various other sensors needed for measuring the boy temperature and talk to the patients.
- Concluding I can say that these robots can be a boon to the Human race but we cannot ignore the bad possibilities / negative impacts too.