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Boston Dynamics' Spot becomes robotic watchdog for Hyundai

Hyundai will have Spot help with safety operations at one of its plants in South Korea.

Spot is on the job. Well, that's actually "Factory Safety Service Robot," which is a safety-oriented version of Spot that's ready to help with operations at Hyundai Motor plants in South Korea. The automaker, which recently purchased a controlling stake in Spot's creators, Boston Dynamics, said on Friday the new robot will work in a local Kia plant to survey industrial areas remotely and help identify issues before they happen.

For example, Spot's new thermal camera and 3D lidar (courtesy of Hyundai's technology chest) can identify personnel near machinery with high temperatures. In this case, our robotic canine friend may be able to pinpoint a fire hazard before a human does. The robot can be controlled remotely by human operators as well, and send potential alarms for hazards and notify plant management of a situation.

Hyundai also plans to have the robot accompany night patrols to create a safer environment. With new gadgetry attached to Spot, including the latest artificial intelligence that helps it understand if doors are open or closed, the automaker believes the robot can play a big part in security. It doesn't sound like Spot's ready to chase down intruders or anything like that, however, but still, this is pretty neat stuff.

All of Spot's new tasks are part of a pilot program so Hyundai can see if there's value in deploying additional Spot-based, robotic security dogs in other plants. The robots could make their way to other industrial sites across Hyundai's global operations, too, but first, the friendly robot dog needs to show it's up to the task.