Amid the boom we’ve seen in recent years surrounding the world of autonomous vehicles (AVs), Velodyne Lidar has been one of the companies leading the way in developing the lidar technology used in these vehicles. It’s not just the AV world in which Velodyne is making their mark and being noticed by industry leaders, though. Their lidar technology is also being used for mobile robots, and a new agreement has ensured that will continue. Late last month, Velodyne announced a new multi-year agreement between them and robotics company Boston Dynamics for the former’s lidar sensors to be used in the latter’s mobile robots.
Velodyne’s sensors are going to be used by Boston Dynamics to provide perception and navigation capabilities for the mobile robots. The idea for these robots is for them to be able to operate autonomously and without human intervention, and the sensors will be a big part in that being able to happen. The sensors from Velodyne will be able to provide real-time 3D perception for localization, mapping, object classification, and object tracking. One of the big keys that will be supported by these sensors will be the ability for the robots to move autonomously through a wide range of environments, both indoors and outdoors and featuring varying temperature, lighting, and precipitation.
That kind of freedom of movement is going to be important for the tasks that Boston Dynamics’ robots, including its famous Spot, is going to be called upon to complete. These robots can feasibly become a significant presence on construction sites and at workplaces like a manufacturing plant, distribution center, and warehouse. As an example, Spot can be used throughout the life of a construction process to autonomously capture 360-degree images and videos, allowing for digital twin and BIM creation to easily monitor process being made on buildings in construction, and even buildings which are finished. These sensors will allow Spot to move through these sites safely and without human intervention, avoiding obstacles and finding the best routes.
Velodyne, headquartered in San Jose, California, has a wide variety of products available on the lidar market, including but not limited to models like Puck, Alpha Prime, and Vella. They have served more than 450 customers throughout the world since their founding. They first made a splash on the AV scene in the mid-2000s when they unveiled the first real-time, 360-degree lidar sensors at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Grand Challenge, a race for AVs. Since then, they’ve worked with a variety of companies, including Google, Caterpillar, and Ford.
Boston Dynamics is the latest in this partnership, and they are among the biggest names in the world of autonomous and mobile robots. They have become something of a household name in recent years with their viral videos featuring their robots, and they do more than just dance. The robots from Boston Dynamics have been used on the job sites mentioned above as well as other areas, including assisting with law enforcement and public safety.
With this partnership, Boston Dynamics Director of Supply Chain, Eric Landry, says they are excited to work with Velodyne to, “enhance and extend the capability of mobile robots.”