NUWC Division Newport innovators employ Spot in machine learning challenge

Six teams of Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport engineers and scientists gathered in a warehouse on Naval Station Newport for the “Spot Robot Warehouse Challenge Innovation Event” culminating competition on June 21. The month-long challenge provided an opportunity to demonstrate an effective end-to-end machine learning pipeline.

The process allowed teams to develop technological solutions to some core problems such as identification and tracking of items, detecting misplaced items, and identifying missing or changed items in a warehouse environment. Teams, assisted by Division Newport photographers, gathered imagery, conducted pre-process planning with the appropriate tools, labeled hundreds of images, built/implemented the right machine learning model architecture, verified performance, and then deployed that solution “in production” on Spot, a robot dog.

A product of Boston Dynamics, Spot is a four-legged robot designed to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. Engineers Gary Huntress and Eugene Chabot of the Undersea Warfare (USW) Platforms and Payload Integration Department acquired Spot so that Division Newport scientists and engineers can develop their skills in autonomy. For this challenge, teams used Spot to identify objects of varying sizes, shapes and visual characteristics.

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