Boston Dynamics Spot robot can recharge on its own now
Boston Dynamics, the robotics firm once owned by Alphabet’s Google and now part of Japan’s tech heavyweight investor Softbank, just gave its dog-like robot Spot an upgrade.
Spot now features a recharging station that the robot can use to power up on its own, which Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter told CNBC’s Squawk Box on Wednesday allows the robot to cover a much broader range, and be located in more remote locations.
Spot also now has access to an arm that allows the robot to perform tasks such as opening doors or drawers, adjusting valves and flipping a power switch.
At a base price for the Spot Explorer of $74,500, the new enterprise version with these features will go higher, but Playter says the company has not yet set pricing for the upgraded robot, which will be available in early 2021.
The robot — which can carry a maximum weight of 14 kilograms, or 30.9 pounds — was launched roughly a year ago in September 2019 and found one of its most high-profile uses in the coronavirus outbreak. It was put into use in Singapore to encourage social distancing in public spaces during the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the time, the company stressed that Spot was encouraging, not enforcing, social distancing.
“The robot isn’t really enforcing in Singapore,” Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last May. “It’s just giving people information and encouraging them,” he said. “There’s a human nearby who can do whatever enforcement they decide is appropriate.”
Spot also was used at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston to take some vitals as part of screening patients for Covid-19.
In all, there are nearly 300 Spots out in the world today.
This week, Boston Dynamics announced a deal with Trimble, a major construction industry player.
As construction sites are trying to better control how densely workers are concentrated, Boston Dynamics’ CEO Playter said that Spot can be used for surveying and data collection, while helping reduce the number of workers on site. Spot will be integrated with Trimble’s data collection sensors and field control software to automate repetitive tasks such as site scans, surveying and progress monitoring in potentially unsafe environments.
Use of robots to collect data and perform hazardous task have been among the primary instances of robots in the field to date, and some companies that have already used Spot include BP, Ford, and Merck.
JPMorgan Asset Management on economic recovery, U.S. stimulus talks
Events and entertainment workers protest unemployment on Aug. 19 in Las Vegas.
BRIDGET BENNETT/AFP via Getty Images)
While it appears that the economy has sharply bounced back from the pandemic’s blow, this is actually a “steroid kind of recovery,” JPMorgan Asset Management’s David Kelly told CNBC.
“We have seen what looks like a V-shaped recovery, but it’s really V-interrupted — it’s half of V,” the chief global strategist said. A V-shaped recovery is one in which an economy sharply rises after a recession.
He explained that when the shot in the arm of fiscal stimulus wears off, growth will slow down again.
“It looks like an economic recovery, but it’s really sort of a steroid kind of recovery. As the steroid of fiscal stimulus is removed, the economy is going to grow more slowly … it’s going to grow much more slowly in the fourth quarter than it did in the third,” Kelly told CNBC on Thursday.
While half of jobs lost in the U.S. have been recovered, he said it’s “still going to be a crawl” until industries shut down by the pandemic can be reopened again.
The U.S. economy has recaptured about 11.4 million jobs — or around half of all positions lost. The unemployment rate has come down to 7.9%, but is still more than double its pre-pandemic level. New claims in the week ended Oct. 10, however, surged to the highest number since Aug. 22, as cases rise in a a renewed wave.
“You need to deal with the pandemic to have a healthy recovery, it’s as simple as that,” Kelly said.
Millions of Americans are waiting for more federal aid to meet their food and housing needs during this crisis, as Washington remains locked in a stalemate over further coronavirus stimulus.
But Kelly says the country will get a stimulus package after the November presidential elections are over.
“I think we’re going to get stimulus anyway. I think people are obsessed with the issue of, do we get stimulus in the next two weeks,” he said. “What’s been going on between the White House and the House Democrats are all to do with politics. After the elections, I think there will be a stimulus package.”
“And in fact, I think if anything there’ll be too much stimulus,” Kelly said.