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Meet the R1 million dog

THE University of Johannesburg under the leadership of Professor Tshilidzi Marwala is forging ahead with its efforts to bring the 4th Industrial Revolution to South Africa.

This time around it has purchased a robot dog for more than R 1 million, although this is not confirmed by the university. According to the manufacturer’s website, Boston Dynamics sells the dogs for $74,500.

The university is planning to use the dog for navigation, research and inspection. During a press briefing about the robot dog the university indicated that it may lease the dog at a fee to industries, such as mining where it may be useful.

The dog has been used in some parts of the world for various use cases. Over the last year, the robot has been used to do critical patient intake at hospitals, and even deliver food, water, or medicine to quarantine facilities to protect healthcare professionals. Beyond the medical field, Spot has been used to disinfect workplaces and even help some people perform on-site jobs remotely.

In February this year, the NYPD used Spot to defuse a hostage situation in the Bronx.

The police department used the robot dog to find a gunman who’d barricaded himself in a building after he’d accidentally shot someone in the head during a parking dispute. When video of the device went viral, its flexible legs and camera-for-a-head design spooked people.

The robot is quadrupedal, but doesn’t actually look like a dog.

There was no public consultation before the dog was deployed and residents hadn’t known to expect to see robot-dogs respond to hostage situations. After community backlash, the New York Police Department stopped using the “Digidog,” a four-legged robot occasionally deployed in dangerous situations. Critics said the machine illustrated the unnecessary militarisation of the police. Spot climbs stairs and traverses rough terrain with unprecedented ease, yet is small enough to use indoors. Built to be a rugged and customisable platform, Spot has a proven track record of supporting remote operations and autonomous sensing across a variety of industries, and is remarkably intuitive, enabling you to focus on the job you do best. Spot Explorer is designed for developers eager to explore how flexible mobile robots can be adapted for tasks, ranging from industrial inspection to entertainment.

Spot comes ready to operate, right out of the box.

With its flexible API and payload interfaces, Spot can be customised for a variety of applications. – IOL