In a groundbreaking move to bolster safety measures at the UK’s largest renewable power station, Drax has introduced a cutting-edge robotic dog named “Sparky.” This innovative creation is equipped with a camera, enabling it to conduct comprehensive safety checks and identify potential hazards at the Drax facility located near Selby in North Yorkshire.
Drax emphasized that Sparky’s deployment would facilitate the collection of superior information while ensuring the safety of its workforce by keeping them out of harm’s way. This remarkable robotic canine belongs to the renowned “Spot” lineage of robodogs, manufactured by the US-based company Boston Dynamics.
This bright-yellow robotic marvel will also be programmed to navigate tailored routes throughout the facility, granting it the capability to operate autonomously. Richard Barber, the maintenance systems lead engineer at Drax, expressed his enthusiasm, describing Sparky’s integration as a true “game-changer” for their operations.
He elaborated, stating, “The technology empowers our team to gather more accurate information regarding our equipment while concurrently safeguarding our colleagues from potential risks.” Barber further highlighted Sparky’s camera, which allows for close examination of equipment, and its thermal infrared camera, which can detect hotspots or thermal irregularities in machinery.
“Our goal is to prevent faults from occurring rather than simply addressing them once they arise,” he emphasized. “With Sparky patrolling the power station, we will be well-equipped to achieve this objective.”
Notably, robotic dogs have already been deployed for various tasks across the UK, including conducting surveys at two Cold War weapons testing facilities. Moreover, in Singapore, this technology was utilized during the pandemic to enforce social distancing measures.