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Robot dog carries acoustic imager to inspect plants safely

14 July, 2021

The mobile robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics has joined forces with Fluke Process Instruments to add acoustic imaging capabilities to its four-legged Spot robot, allowing it to move around industrial facilities to detect changes in mechanical sound signatures in equipment, or to visualise air and gas leaks, in real time, before they become costly problems.

Mounting Fluke’s new SV600 fixed acoustic imager on Spot will allow engineers to safely perform a wide range of inspection tasks in locations where other robots or humans cannot go. The four-legged robot can traverse unstructured terrains to automate industrial inspections, or to monitor remote or hazardous environments. It can be used to identify mechanical sounds, or to detect leaks.

“Customers have already expressed interest and seen value in the SV600 and Spot working together,” says Herman Warnshuis, president of Fluke Process Instruments. “Together they are proving to be invaluable in terms of workforce efficiency for large-scale facilities, particularly for industries such as utilities, energy, automotive and beverages, who are looking to automate their inspection processes.

He adds that the automated acoustic imaging will allow maintenance teams to visualise leaks or changes in sound signatures in factory equipment, thus avoiding unscheduled maintenance and possible costly downtime, at the same time as improving factory safety by minimising operator intervention. “We’re excited to partner with Boston Dynamics to bring our acoustic imaging technology to new parts of the factory floor with Spot,” Warnshuis says.

The SV600 acoustic imager, which is due to released next month, uses an array of sound sensors and technology called SoundMap to translate the sounds that it picks up into a visual representation of its surroundings helping factory personnel to locate possible problems rapidly.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot will carry an acoustic imager around industrial plants to spot possible mechanical problems and leaks
Photo: Business Wire

• The Korean car giant Hyundai has recently acquired an 80% controlling interest in Boston Dynamics in a deal that values the robotics company at $1.1bn. For three years from 2013, Boston Dynamics was owned by Google, which sold it in 2017 to the Japanese investment company SoftBank, which is retaining a 20% stake in the business. Hyundai will use the acquisition to boost its activities in areas such as manufacturing, logistics, construction and automation. It plans to create a robotics value chain, from robot component manufacturing to smart logistics. It addition to launching Spot commercially a year ago, Boston Dynamics recently unveiled Stretch, its first commercial robot designed for palletising operations in warehouses and distribution centres.

Boston Dynamics:  Twitter  LinkedIn

Fluke Process InstrumentsTwitter  LinkedIn  Facebook

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