Clearpath to offer ROS-enabled Spot quadruped robot package to researchers

The Robot Report

Clearpath Robotics Inc., which provides mobile robots for research and development, today announced that it is extending Robot Operating System support to Boston Dynamics’s Spot quadruped. The companies said this ROS support will enable robotics developers to more easily and quickly take advantage of Spot’s capabilities and create new applications.

“Over the past 10 years, Clearpath has been enabling robotics research and development with our rugged, fully customizable and ROS-supported wheeled robots,” noted Chris Bogdon, a marketing manager at the company, in a blog post. “Today, we are excited to extend this same support to Boston Dynamics’ Spot. Through a partnership with Boston Dynamics, academic and corporate researchers can now get ROS-enabled, fully-integrated Spot robots from Clearpath to use in their robotics research and application development.

Spot to roam more widely

After years of developing legged robots, Waltham, Mass.-based Boston Dynamics made Spot commercially available in June. Today, it expanded sales from the U.S. to Canada, the U.K., and the European Union.

The robot weighs about 32.5 kg (71 lb.), can go 1.6 m/s (3.5 mph), and has a payload capacity of 14 kg (30 lb.). It can climb stairs and traverse terrain that wheeled robots might not be able to reach. An arm accessory is planned for release early next year.

Spot has already been tested for applications such as mapping a Ford Motor Co. plant and conducting contactless measurement of patient vital signs at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The robot has also been put to work monitoring a construction site in London, inspections of a Merck facility, and visually tracking assets in a Norwegian shipyard, said Boston Dynamics.

The robot starter kit will have the same starting price of $74,500 across all regions where it is available.

Clearpath ROS support enables more Spot add-ons

Waterloo, Ontario-based Clearpath said that its ROS Package for Spot will enable researchers to use open-source libraries, tools, and community support to accelerate robotics development. The company, whose unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have used ROS, announced its support for ROS on Windows 10 in May.

Bogdon added that Clearpath’s ROS Driver allows users to access the data streams from Spot’s sensors, including five on-board cameras. The ROS Driver is dedicated computer running Ubuntu 18.04 and ROS Melodic, and it has power and communication interfaces through a GXP unit.

A flexible payload mounting plate allows users to add a wide variety of sensors and components supported by ROS, said Clearpath. Users can customize Spot by integrating inertial measurement units (IMUs), more cameras, radar, lidar, and manipulators.

Clearpath said its ROS Package for Spot comes with documentation to help users, as well as support from its engineers and the wider ROS community to help researchers choose the best payload configuration for their needs.

Related content: We tele-operated Spot around Golden Gate park — from 3,000 miles away; The Robot Report Podcast: Clearpath supports ROS on Windows 10; baseball and robotics startups during COVID-19

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Source: therobotreport

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