Boston Dynamics – company overview

Boston Dynamics is one of the companies that has managed to surprise the world from time to time with its innovation and creativity. The headquarters of the company is in Waltham, Massachusetts, in the United States of America.

What is Boston Dynamics?

Boston Dynamics is a robotics company. But this is not a traditional robotics company. 

There are different types of robots. Traditional robotics companies either develop industrial robots(which are used for production in factories or help in big construction work), or military robots(which are used for military operation or rescue purposes), or small robots (for education or experiment or entertainment).

But the approach of Boston Dynamics is different. They develop some excellent robots, which look like either human or dog, and can be used for different purposes. Also, there are robots that can help moving boxes or other elements and can be used in a warehouse.

These robots have the ability to move through obstacles and cross difficult paths. They can move with precision through these paths. Then can balance and survive any external forces and continue working. Sensor-based control and computation are used to achieve that precision.

This precision and ability to survive makes Boston Dynamics robots special and got people’s attention. These robots have legs, and they are dynamically stable.

Boston Dynamics builds robots that have a critical and complex mechanical design. Cutting-edge electronics is used here. And these robots are expert navigators and super intelligent.

Who owns Boston Dynamics?

From December 2020, Hyundai owns most of the stakes of Boston Dynamics. Hyundai acquired 80% of the company by spending $1.1billion. Other 20% is owned by Softbank (the former owner of Boston Dynamics).

Before that, Softbank Group was the owner of Boston Dynamics in the period of 2017-2020.

And even before that, from 2013 to 2017, it was owned by X Development LLC. (which ware formerly known as Google X).

History of Boston Dynamics

Marc Raibert is the founder of Boston Dynamics.

In 1986 Marc Raibert joined MIT as a professor of Electrical Engineer and Computer Science. The main focus of his work at MIT was on developing legged robots that are highly dynamic. And that, in turns, took him to start Boston Dynamics.

In 1992 Marc Raibert started Boston Dynamics. The primary focus of the company was robotics and simulation. The company worked towards developing legged robots for more than 11 years and then came up with their first robot.

Let’s take a look at the robots which build the ground and reputation of the company. These robots were the initial products, which were built step by step to improve the product gradually.

BigDog (2004)

This is the first robot from the company that left the lab. It was a 4 legged robot and was able to survive external forces and obstacles in the way. The max speed of this robot was 5MPH.

RHex (2007)

After 3 years of BigDog release, Boston Dynamics came up with another robot named RHex, different from Bigdob. I t was smaller in size and had 6 legs. The robot’s movement was done by rotating those legs. It was passively stable and had good mobility on a difficult path.

RHex was 30lbs and operated via RF link. It had a high-resolution video uplink. RHex was able to operate for 4 hours on a single charge.

LS3 (2010)

LS3 was a 4 legged robot. I t was designed to carry gears for soldiers. The sensors in it allowed LS3 to follow the soldier and survive on a difficult path.

LS3 could carry 400lbs of load and could travel 20miles without refueling.

WildCat (2011)

A 4 legged robot that was able to move very fast. It could run 32km/h and was the fastest 4 legged robot in the world. It got funding from the M3 program of DARPA.

Sand Flea (2012)

It was a small robot that moved like a car and could jump 10m in the air. Sand Flea was only 11lbs and had 4 wheels. There was an onboard stabilization system for proper landing and video stabilization.

Spot Classic (2015)

This one was the most important robot in the development process. Spot Classic was a 4 legged robot. It was developed for indoor and outdoor use. This Prepared the ground for the most popular robot from Boston Dynamics.

Spot Classic was 160lbs and could navigate through a rough and difficult path, like mountain rocks, stairs, etc.

Best robots of Boston Dynamics

Let’s take a look at the most popular robots from Boston Dynamics. We are going to discuss 4 robots – Spot, Handle, Pick, and Atlas.

Spot

Spot is the most popular robot from Boston Dynamics. This 4 legged robot can move freely and is mostly used to collect data from different locations.

Spot can carry up to 14kg of payload, so some extra extension can be attached to this robot for more data collection or additional tasks.

This robot can be controlled by using a tablet application and very easy to handle. It has some pre-built solutions, and additionally, there are options for customizing it. SDK is available for building custom control for Spot.

Spot costs about $75,000. The cost will increase if some additional extension or item is purchased. This robot has 2 min versions – Spot Explorer and Spot Enterprise (there is another version named Spot academic, but that is similar to Spot explorer).

The best use-cases for Spot are monitoring nuclear plant, gas plant, electric power grid, construction site. Mainly this can be used in places where monitoring by humans is difficult or unsafe.

Handle

Handle is a robot that is specifically made for moving boxes, truck unloading, and warehouse management.  This 4 wheeled robot is powered by battery and can move at a speed of 4m/s.

Pick

Pick is made for moving boxes. But unlike handle, this robot does not have wheels and can not move.

Atlas

Atlas is the most amazing robot from Boston Dynamics. Atlas has the shape of a human and moves using 2 legs. Atlas has 28 joints and can move at a speed of 1.5m/s. This lightweight robot is 1.5m tall and weighs 80kg.

Final Thought

Boston Dynamics is an amazing company. Spot is a well-established product, and lots of companies are buying this. But we are more excited about Atlas. Boston Dynamics has come a long way and developed some amazing robots. We will be waiting for what surprise this company will bring next.