Zeus, the Boston Dynamics robot who works for SpaceX

Zeus began his aerospace career: the Boston Dynamics robot works in SpaceX and monitors Starship . During this time the robotic dog is on the front line and is busy examining the launch pad, making sure everything is okay. A big leap forward for the robot, which could now become the American company's mascot: it even has its own kennel!

Who is Zeus, the Boston Dynamics robot in SpaceX

His real name is Spot , and you've surely heard of it, but SpaceX has decided to rename him "Zeus" as if he were a real pet. The Boston Dynamics robot is used by Musk's company as a field helper during tests for Starship. The launch vehicle, completely reusable, is in fact going through a testing phase with various prototypes. Among these also the SN7, which was destroyed (voluntarily) in maximum pressurization tests. After the explosion, Zeus was spotted wandering the field, checking for damage and monitoring tanks.

Zeus captured in the videos of some onlookers during the SpaceX Starship tests. Credits: Interesting Engineering
Zeus captured in the videos of some onlookers during the SpaceX Starship tests. Credits: Interesting Engineering

The Boston Dynamics robot dog is the production company's flagship droid. Thanks to its agility it is able to move on various types of terrain while maintaining balance and carrying up to 14kg of weight. With a 360 ° perception, it is able to map the surrounding environment to identify obstacles and choose the best path to avoid them.

The robot is capable of performing various tasks: in addition to transporting a load on various types of terrain, it can inspect the environment and collect data on the place where it is located. Spot is controlled with a tablet application, through which it is also possible to make it complete tasks autonomously, by predefining the paths that the robot will follow. This is very useful in case you want to explore a potentially dangerous area without going there yourself.

Spot at work during a demonstration. Credits: DDay.it
Spot at work during a demonstration. Credits: DDay.it

Spot is not exactly affordable for everyone (the basic version costs $ 75,000), but many companies have purchased it to support their businesses . The robot is used in numerous construction sites, by power companies, in public safety and even in healthcare, as well as in mines and in the entertainment world. Its ease of use and its many capabilities allow it to be a versatile help in various fields. Then integrating it with software and sensors of various kinds, Spot can easily monitor the environment and keep track of the progress of a construction site.

Zeus at work

To make the most of the potential of Zeus, SpaceX has spared no expense: the Spot that wanders around on the landing pad is the Enterprise version , also equipped with the Spot CAM +. This camera is color and has a 360 ° field of view , as well as an optical zoom of up to 30x. The numerous sensors installed allow the rpbot to identify potentially dangerous situations or elements, so as to report them as soon as possible and act quickly.

Zeus wandering around his kennel, waiting to return to work. Credits: NASASpaceFlight
Zeus wandering around his kennel, waiting to return to work. Credits: NASASpaceFlight

The debut of Zeus in SpaceX took place during the tests with the SN7 prototype, which took place at the Boca Chica launch site. In this case the nacelle was brought to the pressurization limit to test it up to failure. In such a situation it is obviously very dangerous to approach, and for this reason Zeus came into play. The robot inspected the Starship's tank, moving in a nitrogen cloud as if nothing had happened.

SpaceX hasn't officially announced the use of Spot, but the inhabitants of Boca Chica couldn't help but notice the unusual worker as they followed the launch tests. The robot, given its ability to move easily, could prove to be a perfect ally to monitor the various test phases and identify problems quickly. Will he become the astronaut's best friend?

Not only Zeus: the other SpaceX robots

Along with Spot are other robotic helpers who have collaborated with the SpaceX team for the success of the missions. OctaGrabber is certainly among the most famous , also because it deals with a very delicate task: it manages the landing of the Falcon 9 on the platforms "Of course I still love you" and "Just read the instructions". It is actually a double robot, and consists of 4 arms. Despite its relatively small size in comparison to the spacecraft, its low center of gravity allows it to bear the weight of the rocket and stabilize it on the drone ship.

OctoGrabber with a test device - SpaceX Fleet - Julia Bergeron
OctoGrabber with a test device – SpaceX Fleet – Julia Bergeron

If OctaGrabber does his job on the ground, CIMON has instead had the privilege of getting to the International Space Station. The robot is equipped with artificial intelligence and helps astronauts with their tasks, and is the first AI technology to be sent to the space station. CIMON carries out a few technical but very precise jobs, and is also able to converse , albeit to a limited extent . The robot is guided by voice commands and by cameras that guide it inside the station.

CIMON was sent on a mission not only to carry out tasks, but also to accompany the astronauts. The robot turns on simply by calling its name, and is able to recognize where the voice is coming from and start moving to reach it. To lighten the days of the crew members can also read books and play videos .

The article Zeus, the Boston Dynamics robot working for SpaceX comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .