Lei Feng.com Note: The picture above shows the Spot robot
“Will robots replace humans” is a clichéd question.
Although everyone has a different answer to this question, in fact, it is becoming more and more common for robots and humans to become colleagues. For example, the Spot robot developed by Boston Dynamics recently successfully “joined” oil company AkerBP and became the company’s first robot with an employee number.
AKerBP is a major Norwegian oil company that is currently moving towards digitalization. Karl Johnny Hersvik, CEO of AkerBP, said in a statement:
Digitization will bring differentiated development to oil companies around the world with lower costs and lower emissions. So does our vision and builds on that to keep our employees safe.
To further digitize, in 2020, AKerBP will partner with AI software services company Cognite to use the Spot robot (big yellow dog) to patrol and inspect the Skarv offshore oilfield in Norway.
Lei Feng Net Note: Spot will ‘patrol’ on AkerBP’s ship at Skarv field
Initial tasks for Spot include, but are not limited to, vessel breakdown inspection, response to hydrocarbon spill problems, assisting human employee evacuation in emergency situations, and providing operators ashore with a remote view of marine installations. All in all, Spot will be responsible for some “jobs that may be too dangerous for human employees”, and it is also an important part of AKerBP’s “digital journey”.
At a specific operational level, Spot will collect its own information and transmit it to the Cognite data center; AKerBP’s engineers use the data center to make decisions to improve efficiency and security.
Aker BP and Cognite have now tested Spot’s mobility in a simulated oil and gas environment to ensure Spot’s future access to environments that are difficult to access through traditional automation. Moreover, the two companies will also test the robot’s system to evaluate its performance in automated detection, high-quality data capture and automated report generation.
Lei Feng Net Note: Spot robot at work
Kjetel Digre, senior vice president of operations at Aker BP, said in an interview that the robots never get tired, and they have great adaptability and data-gathering capabilities. The company’s chief executive, Karl Johnny Hersvik, said he’s pretty sure Spot won’t be the last robot to get an employee number.
In fact, Spot can do more than that. According to Boston Dynamics’ official website promotion, Spot has been used in multiple industries such as public safety, oil and gas, construction, and entertainment.
For example, in August-November 2019, the Massachusetts State Police hired the Spot robot “for the purpose of evaluating the robot’s ability to inspect potentially hazardous environments in law enforcement applications, particularly remote applications.” Specifically, Spot is suspected to be used as a “mobile remote observation device” and to assist police in investigating suspicious packages and searching for possible hiding places of suspects, thereby ensuring the safety of police personnel.
Lei Feng net note: Spot is assisting police work
State Police spokesman David Procopio wrote in the review document:
Because robotics can provide situational awareness of potentially hazardous environments, it is an important tool for law enforcement.
However, Michael Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics, said that although Spot has an open API, customers can set the robot according to their needs, but the Spot robot currently only supports rental and does not support purchase.
At the same time, Spot’s leasing has a formal application process, and Boston Dynamics has the right to select organizations/individuals with a certain reputation as its customers. Also, Boston Dynamics has the right to take back the Spot robot if the customer breaches the lease.