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IBM & Boston Dynamics join forces

05 November 2021

IBM and Boston Dynamics have announced a new alliance focused on delivering data analysis at the edge to help industrial companies improve worker safety, optimise field operations, and boost maintenance productivity in industrial environments. Enabled by AI and hybrid cloud innovations from IBM Research, IBM Consulting will develop edge payloads that integrate with Spot, the agile, mobile robot from Boston Dynamics.

As industrial clients look to robotic solutions, Boston Dynamics and IBM are transforming Spot into an intelligent roaming edge device, designing it to give operations staff greater flexibility to inspect and monitor their equipment with dynamic sensing.

In the US, National Grid, a leading electric and gas utility serving Massachusetts and New York has been actively testing the new technology. Spot has already begun conducting regular autonomous inspections at National Grid sites, and the integration of IBM advanced AI adds a new layer of actionable intelligence by processing the data into meaningful insights to enable faster response times when an issue is detected.

The three companies are working together to field test a near real-time inferencing capability that incorporates thermovisual analysis from inspection data collected by the robot. Ultimately, that analysis should help identify hotspots and other problems with station components that, if not corrected, could cause serious equipment failures and power outages. National Grid aims to use edge data processing to detect issues immediately, automatically notifying maintenance staff even before the robot completes its round.