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SPOT Robot joins the Research Team at the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS), University of Johannesburg

The fourth industrial revolution (4IR), a revolution that is fuelled by a suite of advanced and disruptive technologies, promises the development and deployment of new applications and services that will significantly change how people live, interact, and work. In this regard, the Institute for Intelligent Systems (IIS) a flagship institute of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has positioned itself to drive the 4IR initiative in the university and the continent of Africa at large. Among the enabling technologies of the 4IR are robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Everything (IoE), advanced communication technology (5G, 6G, and beyond 6G), nanotechnology, big data, extended reality, 3D printing, and blockchain. These technologies form the basis of research and industrial solutions provided by the IIS.

In pushing the boundary of knowledge around and beyond the 4IR niche, and as a part of its research and development drive towards the 4IR readiness, the IIS has acquired a sophisticated agile mobile robot, the SPOT. The SPOT robot manufactured by Boston Dynamics® is a robot dog that can navigate terrains with unprecedented mobility under a considerably heavy load. Researchers at the IIS intend to put SPOT in use to aid in the development and testing of sophisticated AI algorithms and 4IR-driven solutions for various application areas such as healthcare, disaster management, construction, mining, and industrial inspection/ maintenance. For instance, 4IR-driven solutions for contactless vital signs measurement and symptoms evaluation in pandemic scenarios that minimize the exposure of medical personnel to infection can be independently developed and mounted on the SPOT platform and tested. In other applications, such as disaster management and mining operations where the direct human involvement will be very dangerous and undesirable, 4IR solutions can be integrated into the SPOT system as added functionalities to perform the desired tasks. The ability to extend the functionality of SPOT to achieve customized tasks other than the proprietary ones is due to its unique flexibility and the possibility of utilizing pre-built solutions from an existing network of third-party software and hardware providers to create custom controls, program autonomous missions, and integrate sensor inputs into data analysis tools.

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