Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot was thrown into an army field test – but it ran out of battery mid-combat

Boston Dynamics Spot Singapore
Boston Dynamics’ “Spot” robot.

  • The French army used Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot in a training exercise this week.
  • The exercise was to assess how useful robots like Spot would be in real-life combat situations.
  • Spot ran out of battery in the middle of simulated combat.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The French military are testing Boston Dynamics’ famous robot dog Spot in combat scenarios.

French newspaper Ouest-France reported Wednesday that students at France’s Saint-Cyr military school tested five robots on Tuesday and Wednesday to assess their suitability for combat. Boston Dynamics’ Spot was among the robots.

Students tested the robots in three scenarios – an offensive maneuver at a crossroads, a defensive one during both the day and the night, and finally an urban-combat scenario. The students ran each exercise twice, once without the robots, and once with them.

One of the students who participated in the exercises said the robots offered some benefits in reconnaissance. “I was killed during the urban combat exercise without robots, but not the time when the robot had done reconnaissance,” he said.

But Spot was not without its drawbacks, the same student added. “Spot ran out of battery in the middle of combat,” he said.

Spot was provided to the French military via a French company called Shark Robotics. Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development Michael Perry told the Verge the company was unaware of Spot’s sale to the French military.

“We’re learning about it as you are […] We’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement,” Perry told the Verge.

Perry also said the company had strict rules forbidding customers from weaponizing Spot, but that this wouldn’t stop the military using it. “We think that the military, to the extent that they do use robotics to take people out of harm’s way, we think that’s a perfectly valid use of the technology,” he said.

Boston Dynamics started selling Spot to European customers in November 2020, four months after it went on sale in the US. Spot has been used in construction, healthcare, hospitality, and agriculture.

The New York Police Department also has a Spot robot, which it first deployed in October last year.

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Boston Dynamics unveils Stretch, a new robot designed to move boxes in warehouses

stretch Boston Dynamics
Stretch robot.

  • Boston Dynamics just introduced Stretch, a new robot for moving boxes in warehouses.
  • The company is best known for creating Spot, the robotic dog.
  • Stretch is in a pilot program now, and will make a commercial debut in 2022.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm behind Spot the robot dog, just unveiled a new robot. Stretch is designed to work in warehouses moving boxes, with a long robotic arm for moving objects.

It’s a “box-moving robot designed to support the growing demand for flexible automation solutions in the logistics industry,” Boston Dynamics says. It is the company’s first entrance into warehouse automation, although Spot has been used in some warehouses.

Read more: How to ace the job application and hiring process Amazon’s billion-dollar self-driving startup

The new robot is optimized for any tasks that require moving boxes, including unloading trucks and eventually building orders. The base can move in different directions to navigate loading docks and maneuver around tight spaces and changing layouts.

stretch fast_0 Boston Dynamics
Stretch robot.

Boston Dynamics says Stretch’s robotic arm is lightweight and custom-designed with a “smart gripper” that can handle different types of boxes and coverings. Computer vision technology enables Stretch to identify boxes without need specific training for each customer.

The company is looking for pilot customers to test Stretch before it is commercially available in 2022.

Take a look at the new robot in action here.

Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at mmeisenzahl@businessinsider.com.

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