Spot the robotic dog makes its debut at this year's Mining Indaba

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Spot  at V&A Waterfront on May 11, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing one to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)
Spot at V&A Waterfront on May 11, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing one to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)
  • South Africa's first robotic dog was unveiled on Wednesday at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.
  • The robot's name is Spot.
  • Spot allows organisations to automate routine inspection tasks, capture data securely and safely, and allow for streamlined operations in complex and dangerous environments. 


The Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise robot was showcased for the first time at the 2022 Mining Indaba on Wednesday at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. 

The robotic dog named Spot is an agile mobile robot designed to navigate all types of terrain, allowing organisations to automate routine inspection tasks, capture data securely and safely, and allow for streamlined operations in complex and dangerous environments.

This new development was equipped with Maestro's Industrial Internet of Things (IioT) gas sensor which can be operated on mine sites to detect hazardous gases like carbon monoxide, without putting mining and ventilation teams in danger.

Teams would easily be able to add different gas sensors onto the connected Zephyr Air Quality Station, capturing critical environmental data to proactively identify gas or temperature challenges.

READ | Mining Indaba: Global commodity highs can't hide the crisis at home

Jamie van Schoor, chief executive officer for Dwyka Mining Services said they were "excited" to share their new "best friend" Spot and its amazing capabilities with the delegates of Mining Indaba and the global mining industry.

Van Schoor:

In the spirit of technological collaboration, we have assembled the world's best mining technologies to be on the stand with us to share and conceptualise end-to-end solutions for maximum impact for our mining clients.

As part of Spot's introduction to the mining fraternity, delegates walked a mile with the bot from the V&A Waterfront to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) to raise funds for the NSPCA. 

The 1.6km walk started at Nobel Square in the harbour, where Spot was sent on his way by the bronze statues of Nobel prize winners like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, streaming live content all the way to the CTICC.

How will the robot be used

Using the Spot Enterprise on-board processing capabilities, the data was shared over WiFi.

Gas and temperature sensor readings were captured while the robot was in operation and displayed in real-time via the MaestroLink application. 

spot,robotic dog
Spot arriving at CTICC on May 11, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing one to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

With the addition of a SLAM scanning unit sensor, like the Emesent Hovermap, readings could be saved with precise coordinates in a high-fidelity point cloud that can be exported and examined in a variety of mining software packages.

"Spot is an amazing platform with almost unlimited applications. The ability to get live environmental monitoring data 'on the go' by extending our remote sensing capability to 'smell' for hazardous gas detection from our new robot dog is very exciting," said Rethabile Letlala, Dwyka Mining Services' operations director.  

Hazardous gases that accumulate underground are an invisible threat to mining teams who often did not know they were in danger until it's too late. 

This gas buildup was created through the exposed strata, blasting, daily "mucking" and even runaway battery fires on critical machinery.

Traditionally, the gas levels were measured by the ventilation system at the return air raises or wearable sensors donned by miners. 

While this fixed infrastructure had saved countless lives, mobile autonomous inspection on aerial and ground robots of strategic areas before re-entry or in emergency situations were the next steps to complete real-time coverage.

spot,robotic dog
Spot arriving at CTICC on May 11, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. Spot is an agile mobile robot that navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing one to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. (Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

The Dwyka Mining Services was an authorised reseller of Maestro Digital Mine and a specialised manufacturer of IIoT devices to give mining teams up-to-the-minute information about worker safety underground.

"The established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors will allow us to make the technology mobile for broader applications. We're very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend Spot," said Van Schoor. 

READ | Mining sector companies willing to increase investments if regulatory hurdles are resolved

With Spot set to perform several "tricks" from the stand, the four-day conference would involve experimentation with a series of partner payloads. 

The devices that can be attached to Spot, extend the robot's ability to capture and process data and act as remote sensing devices would allow Spot to hear, see and smell in a virtual capacity. 

"The established client base of Maestro Digital Mine environmental sensors will allow us to make the technology mobile for broader applications. We're very excited about this integration with Maestro Digital Mine as a future partner payload for Boston Dynamics Spot Enterprise solution and look forward to continually improving worker safety for whole-of-mine deployment with our new best friend Spot," said Van Schoor. 



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