Turing Lecture: Building Dynamic Robotics with Marc Raibert of Boston Dynamics

Over 630 attendees logged in to watch the full interview between Marc Raibert, Founder and Chairman of Boston Dynamics and Professor Sethu Vijayakumar, and to interactively take part in the live online polls and Q&A session.

Boston Dynamics are leaders in some of the world’s most advanced robots including Spot, Atlas and Handle. The company specialises in robots which can reach inaccessible areas and are able to move more quickly to get the work done faster.

Marc Raibert started the conversation by explaining athletic intelligence (how we use our bodies to walk, balance) and cognitive intelligence (planning for events). Boston Dynamics are interested in the interaction between these two capabilities as good athletic intelligence combined with cognitive intelligence is essential for a fully functioning hardware system.

Marc then touched on the Covid-19 pandemic, describing how Spot was recently trialled at a Boston hospital to measure patient heart rate, body temperature, oxygenation and respiration. The robot was fitted with a screen to allow medical staff to interact with the patient from a safe distance.

Marc provided an insight into future plans at Boston Dynamics which include a lightweight version of Spot fitted with an arm to grasp and remove any items from the ground that the robot’s camera identifies as hazardous. Further research is being carried out into athletic intelligence to allow the robot to perform the set task even when the situation is not precisely what was planned.

The discussion was followed by a lively Q&A session with questions being asked about the optimal robot size, the dream application for Spot, and ethical concerns.

Attendees then participated in an interactive poll where they were asked their views on robots taking vitals in a hospital (60% of those polled were comfortable with this), and in which areas they expect robots to have most impact in the next 5 years (37% polled health and medical assistance).