Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot is expanding to its resume every day, and the quadruped can add nuclear power plant exploration and radiation monitoring to the list.
Engineers from the University of Bristol recently tested Spot around the Exclusion Zone territory of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. The Exclusion Zone covers approximately a 1,000-square-mile area in Ukraine surrounding the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, where radioactive contamination is highest and public access and inhabitation are restricted.
According to the State Agency for Exclusion Zone Management, this is the first time Spot has been tested there. Spot helped create a 3D map of the distribution of nuclear radiation around the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant. Of course, the area is extremely hazardous due to the fallout from the 1986 nuclear accident, and the Bristol team wants to monitor radiation levels without putting humans at risk.
The Spot robot, being remotely controlled, walked around the area and inside the New Safe Confinement structure, a steel dome designed to keep hazardous radioactivity inside of it. Spot also had help from drones, ground-based robotic vehicles and sensors to assess the distribution of radioactive materials.
You can watch Spot explore the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the video atop this page. With its advanced mobility and autonomy capabilities, Spot is a perfect tool for a job like this. After opening up sales of the quadruped in June to U.S.-based customers for $74,500, Boston Dynamics has since expanded sales to other parts of the world.
Spot has been used for a number of interesting applications in 2020, including enforcing social distancing at a park in Singapore and helping doctors remotely screen potential COVID-19 patients in Boston. The construction industry, however, is perhaps the top industry target for Boston Dynamics. Just last week the RBR50 company announced a partnership with Trimble to take its focus on construction to the next level.
Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics, recently joined The Robot Report Podcast to discuss the commercial launch of Spot and its most unique applications. You can listen to that conversation below, but exploring nuclear power plants might be the robot’s best use case yet.