The past few years have been transformative for technology. We’re seeing rapid advancements in AI, automation, and data management, as well as a growing need for better data collection to power these tools. Industry leaders are not just responding to these changes, but also preparing their businesses for the next generation of transformation.

Many of the world’s leading companies are looking to robots to augment their workforce. And Spot is at the forefront of the emerging mobile robotics market. With more than 1000 robots in over 35 countries, no other robot has been deployed more often to tackle some of industry’s toughest, most dangerous tasks. 

To help Spot do even more, today we’re adding a brand new set of features and hardware. Now, critical industrial tasks like thermal monitoring, acoustic leak detection, and gauge reading are made easier through our automated inspection solutions. New features in our Orbit software allow you to quickly plan and edit missions remotely and get better visibility into your site. Added visual and audio features help the robot signal its intentions, improving safety on busy or populous job-sites. And a new manipulation capability will open the door to more autonomous missions.

Improved Inspection Workflows

A major part of technology adoption is ease of use. We want any customer to be able to have Spot working on site in just a few hours and start to generate value in that first week of deployment. Today, we’re releasing a software update that makes visual, thermal, and acoustic inspections easier than ever.

Compressed air leaks on manufacturing lines and unplanned equipment outages at a plant can cost thousands or even millions of dollars a day. Customers like GlobalFoundries, bp, and National Grid need to be running at peak efficiency and catching costly equipment failure early. They want their people focused on high-value tasks, spending less time collecting data and more time acting on it.

Spot’s latest software release now has multiple, simultaneous inspection types built into the platform and an updated inspection configuration workflow that provides a seamless user experience that’s quick and easy for everyone.

Thermal Inspection

In this release, we’ve introduced a fully end-to-end thermal inspection workflow. In addition to triggering notifications when equipment exceeds preset ranges, you can now set up inspection actions to capture multiple regions of interest in a single photo, and post-inspection, you have access to way more data at your fingertips.

In inspection review, you can view and compare temperatures across the entire photo. You can also set up alerts for temperature differences between up to three regions, which is useful for any inspection where there are multiple targets that should be at the same temperature in normal operating conditions. Moreover, we’ve made it much faster to set up these autonomous inspections. Instead of needing to set your thermal image parameters upfront in the tablet, now you can choose to configure them later in Orbit.

Gauge Reading

Visual inspections like gauge reading are also more tightly integrated in the new software release. With a gauge reading computer vision add-on provided by our partner Levatas, Spot can inspect analog gauges across your site, monitor trends through Orbit, and trigger alerts on abnormal readings, meaning analog gauges no longer need to be manually monitored or replaced with digital versions.

Acoustic Imaging

Lastly, we’ve fully integrated acoustic imaging in this release. With a Fluke SV600 payload for Spot, you can trigger acoustic inspection actions directly from the tablet and subsequently evaluate inspection results remotely through Orbit. The SV600 can serve as an early warning system that enables you to swiftly pinpoint and address problem areas with ease. By setting alarms to detect, locate, and visualize otherwise unheard and unseen air and gas leaks, or any changes in sound signatures, you can proactively save substantial energy costs. Additionally, this capability helps prevent expensive equipment failure and downtime, ensuring uninterrupted operations.

More in Orbit

All these inspection workflows are made really easy through our fleet management software Orbit. Orbit is your portal for mission editing, mission scheduling, real-time, actionable data reviews, as well as data transfer to your own asset management system. For even easier collaboration and insight into your operations, we’ve added new features such as permissions sets and a dashboard to review your robots’ progress.

Human Oriented Hardware

Beyond improved inspection workflows, we’ve redesigned some of Spot’s hardware and added new robot behaviors to reshape how Spot interacts with your team on the ground. It’s really important that Spot behaves in a way that people expect and understand. To do that, we’ve enhanced the robot to include an audio and visual signaling system. We’ve also added an emergency stop button on the robot for increased safety.


Hardware Improvements

The new audio visual system is fully embedded into the robot and consists of safety lights located around the robot’s body, a safety buzzer, and a speaker. This new system provides enhanced safety and awareness for people working near the robot in industrial settings. In order to make sure people near the robot know what to expect, the system comes pre-configured with light patterns and tones that will alert workers that Spot is performing actions in the area. These include:

  • Standard robot operation: When Spot is operating as intended during normal mission activities, it will project a green colored blinking pattern.
  • Inspection actions underway: When the robot is conducting inspection actions around your facility, white lights will flash.
  • Increased caution recommended: When people should pay extra attention and exercise caution around the robot, it will switch to an amber colored blinking pattern. For example, when the robot is going up or down stairs or moving through an intersection or crosswalk inside a facility.
  • Stopped robot: When the robot’s emergency stop has been pressed, red lights will flash.

Spot’s signaling capabilities can be paired with its buzzer to further announce the robot’s intentions—for instance, playing a noise as the robot crosses an intersection or prepares to descend stairs. All of these features can be turned on or off and adjusted to fit your facility’s needs and staff’s preferences.

For our final hardware improvement, we’ve added a physical emergency stop button, or e-stop, onto the back of the robot, in addition to the existing quick stop options on the tablet and in Orbit. When an e-stop or quick stop is pressed in an emergency situation, the robot will quickly and safely sit down.

Behavior Enhancements

In addition to the new hardware, we’ve made a few smaller behavioral updates that will have big payouts in this release. Spot often needs to traverse slippery surfaces and wet floors. We’ve updated Spot’s gaits to make the robot safer in these conditions. In its most stable gait, crawl, Spot will move one leg at a time and stay close to the ground to keep upright on slippery surfaces. Even in normal walk mode, Spot is now better able to catch itself when it slips.

We’ve also added a feature called moving object detection, which can be turned on anytime a Spot EAP 2 payload is attached. Using this payload’s lidar, the robot can detect moving objects such as people or forklifts. When the robot identifies a moving object in its path, it will signal, keep a safe distance, and exercise increased caution as it continues on its mission.

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Opening the Door to Autonomous Manipulation

Robots should be able to grasp and move things in the physical world the same way people can. Until now, we’ve been focused on simplifying manual manipulation tasks, where an operator uses the Spot Arm to interact with the world from a safe distance. But for the very first time, some of those manipulation capabilities are now available in autonomous missions.

In this release, customers can now use the Spot Arm to open doors autonomously during Autowalk missions. Although this is still a beta feature, it will open up new inspection routes and allow Spot to move from room to room on its own, even in a completely empty facility. We’re excited to see what new challenges you’ll tackle as you implement this and all the other new features.

The Future of Robotics

It’s one thing to build a cool robot, but it’s another thing entirely to make a robot that’s actually useful in the real world. The collaboration and feedback you provide as you put Spot to work on a daily basis makes it possible for us to do both. Our hope is these enhancements will improve our human-robot interactions on sites around the world, supporting our longer-term journey toward general purpose robots.

With your ongoing support, we’ll develop a new generation of robots and solutions that make our lives safer, easier, and more productive.

To learn more about why Spot is becoming the industry standard for both dangerous and routine inspections and how customers are deploying Spot today, watch our on-demand webinar: The Missing Link in Your Digital Transformation.