Scotland’s first ‘Spot’ robot set to save lives and cut carbon emissions
A robot made famous by its viral YouTube dancing videos is set to help save lives and cut carbon dioxide emissions by supporting hazardous environment research at the Edinburgh-based National Robotarium.
The robot, believed to be the first of its kind in Scotland, is part of the ‘Spot’ range created by American engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics.
Experts at the National Robotarium, a world-leading research facility for robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) at Heriot-Watt University, will use the new hardware to carry out research into how robots can support humans in hazardous environments like offshore energy inspection and disaster recovery.
The £60,000 robot will be fitted with “telexistence” technology, which lets humans experience an environment without being there, using devices like microphones and cameras to relay sounds and videos.
Children in the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal area are also being given the chance to name the robot, who will then visit the winner’s school.
Professor Yvan Petillot, professor of robotics and autonomous systems at Heriot-Watt University and co-academic lead of the National Robotarium, said: “Fitting this robot with our telexistence technology means we can carry out a range of experiments.
“We can test how the robot can help and support people working in hazardous environments, including oil and gas platforms and oil refineries.
“In search and rescue operations or following accidents, Spot robots fitted with our sensors could monitor a casualty’s vital signs and transmit images and sounds back to a hospital, allowing doctors to offer advice on treatment or decide when it’s safe to move a patient.
“Robots of this design can climb over rubble, walk up and down stairs, and cope with hazards like dust and rain. These features will prove very useful as we develop more ways to ensure robots can help keep people safe and save companies money.”
Check out Spot’s dance moves in the video below.
Dr Sen Wang, an associate professor at Heriot-Watt University and robotics and autonomous systems lead at the National Robotarium, said: “Through a project with the ORCA Hub, the first application for our research with this new robot will be supporting the construction industry. We are going to fit lidar to our robot, which is similar to radar but uses light instead of radio waves.
“That will allow the robot to build up a picture of its surroundings while spotting obstacles like rubble on construction sites.
“Our Spot, however, is unique. We have set it up to be a moving data collector and data centre, equipped with advanced telepresence solutions. When we deploy it on construction sites, it will collect and measure in real time, relaying the data to multiple experts at once, all around the world. This means construction companies, regardless of their location, can benefit from worldwide expertise. Using Spot in this way has the potential to speed up the construction process, reduce costs of re-work, detect hazards, increase efficiency and improve quality control.”
To enter the competition to name Spot, click here.
The National Robotarium is a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, which combines Heriot-Watt’s “engineering heritage and strengths in robotics for hazardous environments, manufacturing, healthcare, and human-robot interaction with the University of Edinburgh’s expertise in space, construction, and humanoid robotics.”
Funded by the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal, the National Robotarium supports the deal’s overarching objective of accelerating growth by attracting inward investment and talent.
The National Robotarium building will open on Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus in 2022.
We need to shout about our successes. Liz Fletcher on celebrating women in biotech
Throughout my career in biotechnology and life sciences, I have seen many women leading ground-breaking research studies in their fields of expertise. Yet, and I include myself in this, we…
Getting the best out of patient data is key to unlocking future health benefits in Scotland
It is important that clinicians’ voices are heard in the consultation around Scotland’s new health and care data strategy, which closes this week (12 August). Busy GPs like myself are the trusted…
How motherhood helped me be a better leader
Consider this an open letter to anyone I have worked with before I became a mother and before I fully understood how being a parent is actually a prized asset…
‘We cannot achieve our goals without entrepreneurs’ – Kate Forbes on vision for new ‘tech scaler’ network
From the very start of my ministerial career, I have had responsibility for the Scottish tech sector – and I can still say what I have said from the start,…
Finding a role in cyber was ‘tough’ for Cheryl Torano. Now she’s determined to help other women join an under-represented industry
When I decided to upskill to change careers at the age of 30 and dive into the digital world, I knew I would be starting out at the bottom of…
Why innovation and marketing are the perfect partners to make changes that matter￼
With the rapid evolution of traditional marketing and the appearance of digital marketing, technology and innovation has become part of any marketer’s life without the need of working for a…
Transitioning to a four-day week – CEO’s vow to strike a healthier balance in the workplace
I came to Scotland nearly 20 years ago from Ireland, with no contacts but a lot of determination. While Ireland will always be my home, Scotland has given me amazing…
Women Lead: The female-led company championing intuitive working
Over the last two years, the pandemic forced a shift to more remote and flexible working practices. Whilst we might be seeing a “return to normal”, some companies are choosing…