Boston Dynamics CEO Rob Playter is coming to Disrupt 2020 to talk robotics and automation

Back in January, Robert Playter became the CEO of Boston Dynamics. It was a momentous occasion, marking the company’s first new CEO since its founding in the early 1990s when the company was founded by Marc Raibert. The move came during what was already a transitional period for the company which is why we are excited to chat with him at Disrupt 2020.

Following its sale to Softbank, Boston Dynamics had recently begun early sales of Spot, its first commercial product. In April of last year, the company made its own acquisition, picking up Bay Area-based Kinema Systems to help design a visioning system for its own warehouse robotics like Handle.

Of course, much of this pre-dates the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has made automation and robotics an even more hot button issue than it has been in the years prior. Over the course of the last few months, Spot has been seen employed in a factotum of different jobs, as everyone from construction companies to health care facilities to baseball teams look to the quadrupedal robot for help.

Playter will be making his first public speaking engagement as CEO at our first online-only Disrupt this October. His appearance comes after several from Boston Dynamics founder (and Playter’s predecessor as CEO) Marc Raibert. Most recently, Raibert made a return appearance at our TC Sessions: Robotics event last April to show off the commercial version of Spot.

He will join us to discuss the challenges and opportunities in transforming Boston Dynamics into commercial venture at Disrupt 2020 on September 14-18. Get a front-row seat with your Digital Pro Pass for just $245 or with a Digital Startup Alley Exhibitor Package. Prices increase on Friday, so grab your tickets now!

Make your video calls more personal with this cardboard robot — Future Blink

Make your video calls more personal with this cardboard robot — Future Blink

‘Smartipresence’ is a tiny robot made out of cardboard that lets people on video calls move your phone so they can see around you.  Read more…

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Ford to use Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robots to map their manufacturing facilities

Ford is going to employ two of Boston Dynamics’ ‘Spot’ robots, which are four-legged, dog-like walking robots that weigh roughly 70 lbs each, to help them update the original engineering plans for one of the transmission manufacturing plans. The plants, Ford explains, have undergone any number of changes since their original construction, and it’s difficult to know if the plans they have match up with the reality of the plants as they exist today. The Spot robots, with their laser scanning and imaging capabilities, will be able to produce highly-detailed and accurate maps that Ford engineers can then use to modernize and retool the facility.

There are a few benefits that Ford hopes to realize by employing the Spot robots in place of humans to map the facility: First, they should save a considerable amount of time, since they replace a time-intensive process of setting up a tripod with a laser scanner at various points throughout the facility and spending a while at each location manually capturing the environment. The Spot dogs are roving and scanning continuously, providing a reduction of up to 50% in terms of actual time to complete the facility scan.

The robot dogs are also equipped with five cameras as well as laser scanners, and can operate for up to two hours travelling at around 3 mph continuously. The data they collect can then be synthesized for a more complete overall picture, and because of their small size and nimble navigation capabilities, they can map areas of the plant that aren’t necessarily reachable by people attempting to do the same job.

This is a pilot program that Ford is conducting, using two Spot robots leased by Boston Dynamics . But if it works out the way they seem to think it will, you can imagine that the automaker might seek to expand the program to cover other efforts at more of its manufacturing facilities.