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SPOT®: An Engineer's Best Friend

Capstone students customize SPOT® robot to meet surveillance needs for Novva Data Centers

Spot the Robot and BYU Engineering Capstone

When Novva Data Centers announced Utah’s largest hyperscale data center campus, they committed to providing their customers with the most state-of-the-art facilities available. And what better way to surveil the data center campus than with the latest and greatest in commercial robotics? Novva Data Centers partnered with BYU Capstone to do just that. One of 53 Capstone teams for 2020-21, these engineering students recently completed the project, leveraging Boston Dynamic’s SPOT® robot technology for maximum benefit at Novva’s new Utah campus.

Novva Data Centers' BYU Capstone team with Boston Dynamic’s SPOT® robot in front of BYU Engineering building, BYU Provo campus.
It took the skillsets of many students to make this project possible. From left to right, James Green (Electrical Engineering), Joey LeCheminant (Mechanical Engineering), Aaron Brown (Mechanical Engineering), Derek Benham (Computer Engineering), Evan Berger (Mechanical Engineering), Jake Sundet (Electrical Engineering), and Ken Flinders (Mechanical Engineering).
Photo by Sawyer Nunley

Even the most sophisticated robot is nothing without robust control software. The team worked long hours to ensure this nimble robot can autonomously monitor specific routes on the data center floor, noticing human traffic and equipment irregularities. This reduces the number of security agents and IT agents needed. The team equipped SPOT® with visual recognition hardware and software, environmental sensors, and even programmed him to politely greet data center employees!

“It’s amazing the things that he’s capable of. Every time we walk him down the hall and go on missions with him, everybody’s got their phones out,” said electrical engineering student Jake Sundet.

As electrical engineering student James Green said, SPOT® represents “the future of cloud computing." The Capstone students on this team were thrilled with the opportunity to work with a cutting-edge example of practical robotics, proving, once again, that while engineering can be challenging, it can also be a lot of fun!