Boston Dynamics 2019
Changing Your Idea of What Robots Can Do. Boston Dynamics builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity, and speed. We use sensor-based controls and computation to unlock the capabilities of complex mechanisms. Our world-class development teams take projects from initial concept to proof-of-principle prototyping to build-test-build engineering, to field testing and low-rate production.
Legs & Wheels: The Best of Both Worlds. Handle combines wheels and legs to provide agile high-strength mobile manipulation. Handle is a robot that combines the rough-terrain capability of legs with the efficiency of wheels. It uses many of the same principles for dynamics, balance, and mobile manipulation found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are fast and efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle has the best of both worlds. Handle can pick up heavy loads while occupying a small footprint, allowing it to maneuver in tight spaces. All of Handle’s joints are coordinated to deliver high-performance mobile manipulation.
Good Things Come in Small Packages. A nimble robot that handles objects, climbs stairs and will operate in offices, homes and outdoors. SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home. It weighs 25 kg (30 kg if you include the arm). SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built. SpotMini inherits all of the mobility of its bigger brother, Spot, while adding the ability to pick up and handle objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors. The sensor suite includes stereo cameras, depth cameras, an IMU, and position/force sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
The World’s Most Dynamic Humanoid. Atlas uses balance and whole-body skills to achieve two-handed mobile manipulation. Atlas is the latest in a line of advanced humanoid robots we are developing. Atlas’ control system coordinates motions of the arms, torso, and legs to achieve whole-body mobile manipulation, greatly expanding its reach and workspace. Atlas’ ability to balance while performing tasks allows it to work in a large volume while occupying only a small footprint. The Atlas hardware takes advantage of 3D printing to save weight and space, resulting in a remarkable compact robot with a high strength-to-weight ratio and a dramatically large workspace. Stereo vision, range sensing, and other sensors give Atlas the ability to manipulate objects in its environment and to travel on rough terrain. Atlas keeps its balance when jostled or pushed and can get up if it tips over.
Takes a Kicking and Keeps on Ticking. Spot takes the lessons learned to develop BigDog, Cheetah, and LS3, and rolls them into a quiet four-legged robot with extraordinary rough terrain mobility and super-human stability. Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It has been the breeding ground for a new approach to dynamic robot control that brings true autonomy within reach. Spot is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. It senses its rough-terrain environment using LIDAR and stereo vision in conjunction with a suite of onboard sensors to maintain balance and negotiate rough terrain. It carries a 23 kg payload and operates for 45 minutes on a battery charge.
Legged Squad Support Systems. The AlphaDog of legged robots carries heavy loads over rough terrain. LS3 was designed to go anywhere Marines and soldiers go on foot, helping carry their load. LS3 carries 182 kg of gear and enough fuel for a 32 km mission lasting 24 hours. (In one test on flat terrain LS3 carried over 500 kg of payload.) LS3 automatically follows its leader using computer vision, so it does not need a dedicated driver. It also travels to designated locations using terrain sensing, obstacle avoidance, and GPS. LS3 was funded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps. Boston Dynamics assembled an extraordinary team to develop the LS3, including engineers and scientists from Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Bell Helicopter, AAI Corporation, and Woodward HRT.
The World’s Fastest Quadruped Robot. WildCat – the fastest quadruped robot on Earth. It runs 32 km/h while maneuvering and maintaining its balance. WildCat uses a galloping gait much like a dog or horse and leans into turns in order to maintain traction and balance. The WildCat robot is the fastest free running quadruped robot in the World, running at 32 km/h. The previous record was 21 km/h, set in 1989 at MIT. WildCat is powered by a methanol burning engine that drives a hydraulic actuation system (and makes a whale of a noise.) The robot uses a variety of gaits, including trotting, bounding, and galloping to maintain its balance while running and maneuvering over relatively flat terrain.
The onboard computer uses dynamic control algorithms and a variety of sensors (IMU, ground contract, proprioception, visual odometry) to control and stabilize the running motion. It uses a set of laser range finders to accurately measure the robot’s height and attitude above the ground. The control system that stabilizes WildCat was first developed on Cheetah, a laboratory prototype that ran 48 km/h, faster than Usain Bolt. Cheetah ran indoors on a treadmill with no wind load, was constrained to move in a plane and was powered by a very large remote power supply. WildCat development was funded by DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program.
The First Advanced Rough-Terrain Robot. The first legged robot to leave the lab and take on the real world. BigDog has four legs that are articulated like an animal’s, with compliant elements to absorb shock and recycle energy from one step to the next. BigDog is the size of a large dog or small mule. BigDog’s onboard computer controls locomotion, processes sensors, and handles communications with the user. BigDog’s control system keeps it balanced, manages locomotion on a wide variety of terrain, and does navigation. Sensors for locomotion include joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load, a gyroscope, LIDAR, and a stereo vision system.
Other sensors focus on the internal state of BigDog, monitoring the hydraulic pressure, oil temperature, engine functions, battery charge, and others. BigDog runs at 10 kmh, climbs slopes up to 35 degrees, walks across rubble, climbs muddy hiking trails, walks in snow and water, and carries up to 150kg loads. Development of the original BigDog robot was funded by DARPA. Work to add a manipulator and do dynamic manipulation was funded by the Army Research Laboratory’s RCTA program.
Leaps Small Buildings in a Single Bound. Sand Flea drives like an RC car on flat terrain but jumps 10 m into the air to overcome obstacles. Sand Flea is a small robot with 4 wheels and a mighty jumping leg. It drives like an RC car on flat terrain but can jump 10 m into the air to jump over obstacles. That is high enough to jump over a compound wall, onto the roof of a house, up to a set of stairs or into a second story window. The robot uses its wheels as gyros to stay level during flight so the operator gets a clear view from the onboard camera and to ensure a smooth 4-wheel landing. Sand Flea can jump about 25 times on one charge. Boston Dynamics developed Sand Flea with funding from the US Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF), DARPA and Sandia National Laboratory. SandFlea is currently out of production.
Devours Rough Terrain. RHex is a passively-stable six-legged robot with high mobility. RHex is a six-legged robot with remarkable mobility on rough terrain. Independently controlled legs produce specialized gaits that propel it over rough terrain with minimal operator input. RHex traverses rock fields, mud, sand, vegetation, railroad tracks, telephone poles, and stairways.
Front- and rear-facing cameras give the operator a remote view of RHex’s surroundings. Its sealed body makes RHex fully operational in wet weather, muddy and swampy conditions, and flowing culverts. RHex’s remarkable terrain capabilities have been validated in government-run independent testing. RHex was developed with funds from DARPA and the US Army Rapid Equipping Force.