Technology Un-Leashed: LSU CM Department Unveils Robot Dog That Knows Many “Tricks”
July 27, 2020
BATON ROUGE, LA – Grabbing the attention of LSU Construction Management students just got easier thanks to a new pet that will now inhabit one of the department’s labs. While this dog can see, smell, hear and listen to commands, he requires no food, water or walks. His name is Spot and he’s a robot.
Spot, deemed a “dog-bot” by its creator Boston Dynamics, serves a multitude of purposes. It’s just a matter of what one wants Spot to do. Not only can Spot go where people can go, more importantly, he can go where people can’t go. Spot can inspect gas leaks, get close to COVID-19 patients (reserving PPE), and even herd sheep. He can climb stairs and traverse rough terrain with ease. The possibilities are endless.
So, why does LSU need Spot?
LSU Construction Management Professor Jonathan Shi is Spot’s “trainer,” so to speak, and said Spot can be trained to do whatever the department would like him to do.
“We want to create a mission telling Spot where to go and what information to gather,” Shi said. “What can we learn from that information and what decisions can be made accordingly? On a construction site, you do inspections and send people to check on safety regulations and progress. What we see, we do not always remember, and it’s also not very detailed. Spot’s sensors enable us to gather more precise information.”
Spot has a graphics processing unit (GPU) and advanced sensors that can sense much better than human eyes and ears. This allows him to detect dangerous situations, such as in chemical plants, the oil and gas field, and mines. Spot can also communicate through WiFi, telephone networks and GPS. Since he also comes with a laser scanner, Spot can take 360-degree photos. He can be driven remotely or taught routes and actions to perform missions.
“Students will be happy to see what this new technology can do,” Shi said. “It’s exciting for them and their research.”
Shi hopes to work with LSU’s engineering departments to create further applications for Spot.
Contact: Libby Haydel