Boston Dynamics is upping its game in the robotics industry by announcing that it will deploy a robot to Ukraine to help mine clearing operations. The company has been busy developing new military and special operations robots. This latest announcement shows that they are continuing to lead the pack in terms of innovation.

Boston Dynamics, a leading robotics company, will send one of its robots, the Spot. This robot weighs 160 pounds and is equipped with sensors and an arm to manipulate objects. It also has a device that can detect and safely detonate mines.

One of the most dangerous tasks that soldiers have to do is clear landmines. This involves going into an area where there could be hidden explosives and carefully removing them. It is a slow and painstaking process that often puts soldiers in danger.

Meanwhile, one of Spot’s most promising features is its ability to detonate mines safely. It has other sensors, including an RGB camera, thermal camera, laser rangefinder, and GPS. In addition, its arm can be used to manipulate objects, allowing it to detonate mines accurately. This will allow soldiers to avoid danger while the robot does the dangerous work.

YanDavos CZT based radiation detector mounted to SPOT quadrupedal robot from Boston Dynamics, deployed in the Chornobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zone. (Source: ArticCynda/Wikimedia)

As for how it will be used to clear mines, the Spot will be equipped with a special device that can detect Ukrainian and Russian bombs below ground and safely bring them up to the surface. These tasks are run in a remote operation setup. Therefore, no soldiers are expected to be harmed in any of the detonation activities done by Spot.

However, this will be a long and arduous mission for Spot since these robots are expected to clear some 300,000 square feet of Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Meri Akopian said they are projecting a 5-10 year timeline for the landmines to be completely cleared out. It’s even more challenging since an estimated 2.8 million Ukrainians are expected to return to these regions (or at least cross these locations) during this period. Therefore, the risk of someone stepping on a landmine in the rubble of their homes is still very high.

“Anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, as well as other unexploded or abandoned ammunition left behind in Ukraine, threaten the lives of millions of people,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated. “They will take years to remove, hindering reconstruction efforts and making it unsafe for people to return to their previous daily lives.”

Spot’s Training

The Spot robot has been tested in a variety of conditions to ensure that it can safely detonate mines. The tests have been conducted at the Boston Dynamics facilities and in Ukraine.