A robot dog named Spot is being used as a replacement for drones by Spanish renewable energy company Acciona. Spot is monitoring the performance of a utility scale solar plant it is operating in the Desert of Atacama, in northern Chile, the company explained. “The maximum payload of a drone can be about five kg, while Spot can carry almost 15 kilos,” said Carlos Crespo, head of Acciona’s robotics and artificial intelligence group. He also explained that drones are able to move faster than Spot and, however, their batteries usually last only up to 30 minutes of autonomous operation, while the robot dog can operate for up to 90 minutes.
The device has a built-in thermal vision system that generates thermographic reports on the status of the different PV plant components, as it walks between the panel rows following a programmed route. According to the robot developer – US-based Boston Dynamics – the big benefit of the robot legs is that they are terrain-independent.
“A robot with legs has the most traversability, and it can be used regardless of the type of terrain at a given site. And Spot’s built-in, state-of-the-art navigation stack – all of the software and the hardware that the robot needs to get from point A to point B – is quickly making Spot the ‘go-to’ resource,” the company said in a statement.
Boston Dynamics sold its first robot dog in 2020 at a price of $74,500. It has been used so far by various industries for a wide variety of applications. Initially, Spot was used to inspect the construction works of active infrastructure tunnels, according to the US manufacturer.
Acciona decided to incorporate the quadrupedal robot into its operations in 2019.
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