Boston Dynamics’ robot dog inspects SpaceX site in Texas


Footage has emerged of one of Boston Dynamics’ robotic dogs patrolling a SpaceX test site in the US.

The video allegedly shows SpaceX using the $75,000 (£60,000) robotic dog to inspect the aftermath of its test site in Boca Chica, Texas.

SpaceX had just been conducting a cryogenic pressure test on the Starship SN7 dome tank prototype, according to Tesmanian.

SN7 was filled with sub-cooled liquid nitrogen and it was intentionally pressurised to its capacity before it burst and collapsed on its side. 

The stainless-steel commercial spacecraft, once operational, will be capable of transporting passengers on long-duration voyages to the Moon and Mars.

But until the launch vehicle is ready, Elon Musk’s company appears to be employing a little help from a trusty robotic companion. 

In footage captured by Texas-based YouTuber LabPadre, the Boston Dynamics dog can be seen trotting through thick clouds of nitrogen next to the wreckage. 

Leaked pictures also supposedly show a bright red dog house for the robot dog to sleep in, showing it has been rechristened ‘Zeus’ by Musk’s firm. 

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Footage from YouTuber LabPadre has emerged of the aftermath from SpaceX’s intentional pressrure test. Eagle-eyed viewers spotted dog-like figure trotting through the nitrogen gas cloud

The nimble, four-legged robotic dog, which goes under the product name ‘Spot’, has been under development by highly secretive US firm Boston Dynamics for years.

But it was finally made available to purchase last week and it looks like Musk has been quick to snap up one of the litter. 

The robot, which is suited for indoor or outdoor use, can map its environment, sense and avoid obstacles, climb stairs and open doors.  

It can be charged with sniffing out hydrocarbon leaks, inspecting equipment, taking mechanical readings and completing inspections in areas that might be too dangerous for human workers. 

It’s possible that the robot dog, which is equipped with cameras and sensors, is being used to explore environments that no human SpaceX worker can withstand.  

‘The combination of Spot’s sophisticated software and high performance mechanical design enables the robot to augment difficult or dangerous human work,’ aid Marc Raibert, chairman and founder of Boston Dynamics in an earlier statement.

‘Now you can use Spot to increase human safety in environments and tasks where traditional automation hasn’t been successful.’      

Blurrier footage from LabPadre posted earlier in the month also appears to show Zeus at the SpaceX test site at a closer vantage point. 

Neither SpaceX nor Boston Dynamics have responded to MailOnline to confirm that the small dog-like figure in the video is actually a Spot robot.

But it’s likely the multi-billion-dollar company that is SpaceX would be unlikely to waste any time in buying such an anticipated piece of hardware.  

Elon Musk has even gone to the trouble of setting up a dog house for the new robotic SpaceX employee

Elon Musk has even gone to the trouble of setting up a dog house for the new robotic SpaceX employee

Spot, the quadruped robot has been developed by Boston Dynamics. Cognite and Aker BP have tested Spot's mobility in simulated oil and gas environments to ensure that it can access locations in these facilities too difficult to access through traditional automation

Spot, the quadruped robot has been developed by Boston Dynamics. Cognite and Aker BP have tested Spot’s mobility in simulated oil and gas environments to ensure that it can access locations in these facilities too difficult to access through traditional automation

Spot was announced by Boston Dynamics back in 2016 and underwent various trials before being released commercially on June 17. 

As part of a pilot phase last year, Boston Dynamics leased 150 Spot robots to domestic and businesses and research facilities to ‘document construction progress, monitor remote or hazardous environments and provide situational awareness’.  

Singapore employed Spot to roam parks, broadcasting a message reminding pedestrians to keep their distance during the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s also been used to herd sheep on a New Zealand farm at speeds of up to three miles an hour. 

Massachusetts Police also used the dog to sniff out bombs as part of a three-month trial in return for feedback.        

Black Mirror’s ‘Metalhead’ was the fifth episode of the fourth season that was filmed entirely in black and white

Black Mirror’s ‘Metalhead’ was the fifth episode of the fourth season that was filmed entirely in black and white

Boston Dynamics technology is probably best known for inspiring a standout episode of Charlie Brooker’s dystopian Netflix series ‘Black Mirror’. 

In the 2017 episode, called ‘Metalhead’, people in the near future flee from an army of robotic dogs that ruthlessly hunt down humans. 

But not to worry – Boston Dynamics told The Verge that the company will not support uses of Spot that ‘harm or intimidate’ people which includes banning the attachment of weapons. 

WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT MINI ROBO-DOG?

Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.

The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.

The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.

‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.

It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.

SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’ 

SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house. 

In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.

There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.

It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up. 

‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.

‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. 

‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. 

‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’ 



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