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The world’s leading robotics company under SoftBank: Boston Dynamics (formerly owned by Google) (1992)

Boston Dynamics (Boston Dynamics, official website ) is an American engineering and robot design company founded in 1992 and headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group . Boston Dynamics is well-known for developing BigDog, a quadruped robot designed by the US military funded by the US Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and DI-Guy software for realistic human body simulation (COTS).

Boston Dynamics

In the early days, Boston Dynamics and American Systems Corporation accepted a contract from the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division (NAWCTSD). The content of the contract was to use DI- Interactive 3D computer simulation of Guy characters, replacing naval aircraft ejection mission training videos.

Boston Dynamics is a pioneer in the field of robotics and one of the most advanced companies in the field. Marc Raibert is the company’s president and project manager. He spun off the company from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) in 1992.

On December 13, 2013, Boston Dynamics was acquired by Google X ( a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. ) at an unknown price and was managed by Andy Rubin until he left Google in 2014. Prior to the acquisition, Boston Dynamics transferred their DI-Guy software product line to VT MÄK, a simulation software supplier based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On June 9, 2017, SoftBank acquired Boston Dynamics, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet , on a non-disclosed term .

Boston Dynamics products/robots (June 2018):

BigDog, SpotMini, Handle, Spot, SandFlea, WildCat, LS3, Atlas, RHex , previous old versions also include: LittleDog, Cheetah, RiSE and PETMAN.

  • 1 , BigDog (BigDog) – The first advanced complex terrain robot

BigDog is a quadruped robot created by Boston Dynamics in 2005 in cooperation with Foster-Miller, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Harvard University Concord Field Station.

BigDog is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). It was originally hoped that it could be used as a robotic pack mule to accompany soldiers in complex terrain and vehicle impassable conditions, but BigDog is considered too large to be used The battle was then shelved.

BigDog does not use wheels, but uses four legs for movement, so that it can move across impassable and complex terrain. BigDog is known as “the most ambitious legged robot in the world”. It is designed to carry 340 pounds (150 kg) with a load of 4 miles per hour (6.4 km/h; 1.8 m/s) with soldiers, Cross rugged terrain on a 35-degree slope.

Boston Dynamics BigDog

  • 2. SpotMini-a flexible robot that handles objects , climbs stairs, and can operate in offices, homes and outdoors

The four-legged dog inspired SpotMini launched by Boston Dynamics weighs only 25 kilograms (55 pounds), which is lighter than other products. Fully charged, the robot can run for about 90 minutes. Spot Mini is one of the quietest robots released by Boston Dynamics.

In February 2018, the promotional video of SpotMini using its front paws to open a door for another robot ranked first on YouTube, with more than 2 million views. Later video in the same month showed that SpotMini insisted on trying to open the door in the face of human intervention. The audience thought the robot was “creepy” and “reminiscent of various science fiction robots that will not give up the task of finding and destroying.”

On May 11, 2018, at the TechCrunch Robotics Session 2018, CEO of Marc Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics announced that the SpotMini robot is in pre-production and is ready to be put into commercial use in 2019. Boston Dynamics emphasized on its website that SpotMini is “the quietest robot ever built.” The device weighs about 66 pounds and can run for about 90 minutes while charging. The company said that it plans to cooperate with contract manufacturers to build the first batch of 100 SpotMinis for commercial purposes later this year and begin to expand the scale of production. The goal is to sell SpotMinis in 2019.

Boston Dynamics SpotMini

3. Handle-legs and wheels: the best of both worlds, providing flexible and high-intensity mobile operations

Handle is a research robot that is 6.5 feet (198 cm) tall, can travel at 9 mph (14.5 km/h) and jump 4 feet (122 cm) vertically. It uses electricity to operate electric actuators and hydraulic actuators, and it can travel about 15 miles (24 kilometers) with a battery.

Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and movement operating principles of the quadruped and biped robots produced by Boston Dynamics, but only has about 10 drive joints, making it significantly less complicated. The wheels are very efficient on flat surfaces, and the legs can be used almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle can have the best of both worlds.

Boston Dynamics Handle

  • 4. Spot-a quiet four-legged robot with extraordinary terrain mobility and super human stability

Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operations. Spot uses electric and hydraulic drive. It uses lidar and stereo vision and a set of on-board sensors to sense its rugged terrain environment to maintain balance and coordinate the rugged terrain. Spot can carry a payload of 23 kg and can run for 45 minutes on a single charge.

Boston Dynamics Spot

  • 5 , SandFlea– can jump, and across a small robot building

Sand Flea is a small robot with 4 wheels and powerful jumping legs. It drives like a remote control car on flat ground, but can jump up to 10 meters in the air to jump over obstacles. This is enough to jump over the composite wall, climb to the roof of the house, climb a set of stairs or enter the windows on the second floor.

The robot uses its wheels as a gyroscope to keep it level during flight, so that the operator can clearly see the on-board camera and ensure a smooth four-wheel landing. SandFlea can jump 25 times on one charge. Boston Dynamics developed Sand Flea with funds from the US Army’s Rapid Equipment Force (REF), DARPA, and Sandia National Laboratory.

SandFlea is currently discontinued.

Boston Dynamics SandFlea

  • 6. WildCat-the fastest quadruped robot in the world

The WildCat robot is the fastest quadruped robot in the world, with a speed of 32 km/h. The previous record was 21 km/h set by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989.

WildCat is driven by a methanol combustion engine to drive a hydraulic drive system. The robot uses various gaits, including trotting, jumping and running, to maintain its balance when running and maneuvering on relatively flat terrain.

The on-board computer uses dynamic control algorithms and various sensors (IMU, ground contract, proprioception, visual ranging) to control and stabilize the operation. WildCat uses a set of laser rangefinders to accurately measure the height and posture of the robot on the ground.

The control system to stabilize the WildCat was first developed on Cheetah, and the laboratory prototype has a speed of 48 km/h, which is faster than Usain Bolt. WildCat development is funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation project.

Boston Dynamics WildCat

  • 7 , LS3– legged team support system

The LS3 is designed to be used as a walking companion for marines and soldiers on any terrain, helping to bear their weight. LS3 can carry 182 kilograms of equipment and enough fuel for a 24-hour mission of 32 kilometers. (In the flat test, the LS3 record can carry more than 500 kg payload.)

LS3 uses computer vision to automatically track its leader, so it does not require a dedicated driver. It also uses terrain sensing, obstacle avoidance and GPS to travel to designated locations.

LS3 is funded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps. Boston Dynamics has assembled an extraordinary team to develop LS3, including Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon University (Carnegie Mellon), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation And engineers and scientists from Woodward HRT.

Boston Dynamics LS3

  • 8 , the most dynamic humanoid robot Atlas– world (already a backflip)

Atlas is the latest product in a series of advanced humanoid robots being developed by Boston Dynamics. Atlas’ control system can coordinate the movements of the arms, torso and legs to realize the whole body movement operation, which greatly expands the operating range and working space.

Atlas’ balance ability when performing tasks allows it to work with a large reach while taking up a small space.

Atlas hardware makes full use of 3D printing technology to reduce weight and space, thus forming an excellent compact robot with high strength-to-weight ratio and large working space. Stereo vision, distance sensing and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and drive on rough terrain.

Atlas is very flexible and can complete a series of actions, including backflips.

Boston Dynamics Atlas

  • 9 , RHex– ignoring the rugged terrain

RHex is a six-legged robot with excellent mobility on rough terrain. The independently controlled legs produce a dedicated gait, which can be advanced on rough terrain with minimal operator input. RHex travels through rocky terrain, dirt, sand, vegetation, railroad tracks, telephone poles and stairs.

The front and rear cameras provide operators with the ability to remotely view the surrounding environment of RHex. Its sealed airframe allows RHex to operate in wet weather, muddy and swamp conditions, and culverts flowing. RHex’s excellent terrain capabilities have been verified in independent tests run by the government.

RHex was developed with funding from DARPA and the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipment Force.

Boston Dynamics RHex

Boston Dynamics RHex in mud

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