Spot has twerked to Bruno Mars, hauled a truck across a parking lot, and pulled Adam Savage’s homemade rickshaw. Now, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog is taking on the most important role of its life: frontline healthcare worker.
Like many companies, Boston Dynamics’ focus shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The engineering firm spent six weeks developing a new payload, hardware, and software; preparing Spot to help reduce exposure of medical staff to the novel coronavirus.
“We have spent the past several weeks trying to better understand hospital requirements to develop a mobile robotics solution with our robot, Spot,” a Boston Dynamics blog post explained. “The result is a legged robot application that can be deployed to support frontline staff responding to the pandemic in ad-hoc environments such as triage tents and parking lots.”
That’s exactly what Spot has been doing since joining the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts two weeks ago. With an iPad and two-way radio strapped to its back, the robot serves as a telemedicine platform—providers can video conference and sort potentially contagious patients.
Following a successful trial period, Boston Dynamics has open-sourced its designs “to empower mobile robotics platforms to leverage the same hardware and software stack that we’ve developed.” You don’t need a Spot dog to implement the services; most wheeled, tracked, or legged robots will do.
“We hope our fellow mobile robot providers, existing customers, and medical professionals will be able to use this information to leverage mobile robots to take people out of harm’s way during this critical time,” the blog said. “Together, we can improve conditions for healthcare workers and essential personnel around the world, save lives, and fight COVID-19.”