Engineering students from the top economic region of Zwolle have a true scoop: they are the first students in the Netherlands to have access to robot dog 'Spot', an advanced robot that works together with humans. Students and companies research what Spot means for the manufacturing industry at the Perron038 innovation center in Zwolle.
"We are all familiar with the robot vacuum cleaner that independently cleans the floor and the thermostat that automatically switches on the heating when the temperature in a building drops," said the people behind Perron038. "These are examples of robotics and automation. Robot Dog Spot, developed by Boston Dynamics, takes robotics to 'the next level', because this robot works together with humans and can perform tasks that are dangerous to humans."
Using four legs
"Spot walks on four legs and looks and feels with cameras and sensors. He can therefore move independently and, for example, detect humidity, supply machines and check whether the right materials are used in the right place", says Arend van der Sluis - CEO of the Dutch high-tech machine builder Tembo. "He can handle all kinds of terrain. He can even climb stairs."
The opportunities that Spot offers for the industry are the primary reason to bring it from the USA to the Netherlands. The robot dog finds its home at innovation center Perron038 in Zwolle. "He is staying there because we want to work with students and other companies to investigate what this type of robot means for the manufacturing industry in the near future."
Spot as our colleague
Robots will become our new colleagues, according to Van der Sluis. Moreover, they can create work, he says. "A robot like Spot can walk through a machine and reach places that technicians cannot just reach. As a result, employees have their hands free and can control the production process and guarantee quality," explains the entrepreneur.
"Another advantage is that work that is now being done in low-wage countries can come back to the Netherlands. In any case, it is smart to make more in the Netherlands, because during the corona crisis it became apparent that the west is too dependent on supplies from countries such as China. Moreover, why ship products from the other side of the world to the Netherlands, if we can also make it here for the same price? Local production is better for the environment. "
To get to know Spot and explore its possibilities, the students are now looking for a way to have the robot dog replace its battery independently. "This will probably involve another robot, which removes the almost empty battery from Spot and replaces it with a full one. Spot can be used almost continuously, without employees having to worry about it. But more importantly, this is how we learn what we all do. to be able to use this kind of robotics, ”emphasizes Van der Sluis.
Inspiration is key
Learning is paramount, according to the entrepreneur. "If we did this to have all kinds of work carried out quickly, we would simply have had to buy a lot of Spots. At Perron038, we want students and companies throughout the Zwolle Region to benefit from this. Spot serves as inspiration for the application of this kind of robotics in the workplace and society. And to show talent how interesting working in the manufacturing industry is."
Innovation hub Perron038
Perron038 is the innovation center for the manufacturing industry in the Zwolle region. Here technicians from companies and technology students from Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, University of Twente and Fraunhofer Institute, among others, work on the future of the high-tech manufacturing industry. Tembo is one of the founders of Perron038, together with AWL-Techniek, Tolsma Grisnich and Wadinko.