Boston Dynamics' Spot robo-dog has been in the news for plenty of reasons, be it teaming up with a bomb squad or working to detect leaks at an oil rig.
The bot packs an extensive set of capabilities, and in the latest effort, it is using those skills for something completely new - pulling a person on a rickshaw.
Here's all about it.
Spot loaned to former MythBusters host Adam Savage
Back in January 2019, Boston Dynamics, owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, loaned out one of its Spot robo-dogs to former MythBusters host Adam Savage.
The machine was given away for a year during which Savage tried a number of things, including using the publicly available Spot Software Development Kit (SDK) to configure the bot to run successfully through a police training obstacle course.
Now, it's pulling a rickshaw
Savage wanted to ride on the back of Spot, but then, he realized that the machine isn't designed to carry that much amount of load.
So, he came up with a workaround and started the project to turn the robo-dog into a robotic rickshaw puller.
A rickshaw, as many may know, is a manually-pulled cart, with sufficient space to seat one or more individuals.
Savage customized Spot to pull him in the rickshaw
In a recent video, Savage showed how seamlessly Spot managed to pull him in a rickshaw.
To make this happen, the creator had to do a lot of stuff, including using the SDK to train the machine for pulling a carriage as well as using its cargo rails to mount a tow hitch that could be connected with the cart.
Here's a glimpse of Spot's rickshaw-pulling skills
Can we see robotic rickshaw pullers in the future?
The work done by Savage shows that Spot and other robo-dogs can be configured to pull rickshaws.
It is not the best use of the machines (they should be used in environments dangerous to humans) but given that wheeled rickshaws are still being used in India and other countries, it would make sense to deploy them and save humans from taking the load.
Spot can run 90 minutes on a single charge
On paper, Spot weighs around 25-30kgs and is capable of carrying about half of that directly on its back. It uses battery-powered actuators to move its 'limbs' and can keep working for about 90 minutes on a single charge.