Straight outside a science fiction story- Shell's Scotford Complex in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta has gained two new employees, and they're not human.

Two Boston Dynamic robot dogs- marketed as the product "Spot"- were added to the team. Shell uses these two bots to complete the dangerous and mundane tasks in the plant.

The Next Big Technology Robot Dog Employees at Alberna Shell Refinery
(Photo : Spot via Boston Dynamics Screenshot)

Keeping Employees Safe From Hazardous Work

Boston Dynamics explains in their video that Spot has been used in various tasks. Some to name are underground mining, managing inside nuclear powerplants with risks of radiation, construction sites, and off-shore rigs that are constantly at risk with the raging seas.

In their webpage, Boston Dynamics explains in detail why Spot is an incredibly powerful piece of technology. It can move at a top speed of 3mph while run-time of 90 minutes. The battery is also replaceable if you prefer to keep one charged and ready. Cameras enable 360-degree obstacle avoidance, letting you 'see' in any direction without hassle. The machine can carry up to 14Kg weight load.

For rough jobs, Spot is crash-protected. It also has self-rights function after falls, so you would not have to manually stand it back up by heading in the deployed field yourself. Spot operates at temperatures of -20C to 45C. It is also IP54 rain and dust protected.

Remote Monitoring Work Through Spot's Camera Eyes

Spot can be controlled from afar with an intuitive tablet application and built-in stereo cameras. Spot is an agile robot that can navigate through multiple terrains and allows you to inspect tasks and capture data accurately and safely.

The industrial dog uses AutoWalk, which allows users to record Spot's actions through an environment and play them back autonomously.

Two Spot Models Available

Up-to-Date, Boston Dynamics released Two Spot Models in the market: Spot Explorer and Spot Enterprise. 

The first model is the most basic package with a rechargeable battery, autonomous missions' system, and 2GHz Wi-Fi. 

Spot Enterprise, on the other hand, is the upgraded version and a deployed model that fully automates and specializes in capturing remote data. Its package includes a self-charging dock with expanded autonomous mission functions and Wi-Fi Dual-Band Support.

A product called 'Scout' is remote operations software that lets operators run pre-programmed autonomous missions or manually control the robot. Spot could also be installed with an Arm is a unit that specializes in remote manipulation possible. The arm lets you do things like picking things up or opening doors and valves.

All these capabilities were built to help make the robot work easier and better.

Boston Dynamics has also partnered with companies such as Flir, which specializes in gas control, equipping Spot with 'the sense of smell,' Trimble and their enhancements for construction projects, and Rajant, with low latency remote communications that enhanced Spot's remote performance. 

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Affordable and Efficient Automatic Working Dog

Conal MacMillan of Shell Scotford sees the potential of adding computerized canines to their team. Pricing at around CAD $100,000, Shell saw that this machine was worth the investment.

This is not the first drone the plant has bought. They have certified drone pilots to man their sites and tank-feeding robots. Boston Dynamics has created several different styles of robots for different purposes, including a humanoid model named "Atlas."

Unfortunately, only Spot is the model for sale for commercial use.

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Written by Czarina Grace Del Valle

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