Robodog patrols data center and checks server temps. Requires no treats or bathroom breaks

Novva Data Centers and BYU engineering students customized Boston Dynamics' robot to greet guests and run pre-programmed patrols.

wire robot dog 2021

Novva Data Centers has a new member of its security team: WIRE, a customized version of Spot, the dog robot from Boston Dynamics.

Image: Novaa Data Centers

Novva Data Centers and engineering students at Brigham Young University have built a new security guard with a photographic memory and a keen sense of temperature. The engineering students started with the four-limbed robot built by Boston Dynamics and customized its hardware and software to fit the data center's requirements. 

WIRE--short for Wes' Industrious Robot Employee--completes regular security checks of the facility to monitor temperature levels and make sure all the humans in the building are supposed to be there.

The robot greets people it recognizes by name. If the robot does not recognize an individual in the facility, it alerts central command, takes note of the person and their position, and captures an image.

SEE: Patrol bot hits the ground roving to assist with COVID-19 safety protocols and more (TechRepublic)

WIRE runs various prescribed missions at regular and random patterns on its own. If for some reason it loses connectivity, it automatically lays down or sits. If it falls over, it can automatically right itself. A human can manually override the dog to investigate or go off course if needed. 

Novaa CEO Wes Swenson said the company's use of these robots will evolve with the machines themselves.

"With the eventuality that 'limbs' will evolve with future generations, they will be able to open doors for one another and go through security portals, similar to humans," he said. "We envision them assisting with payloads in the near future as well."

SEE: See Spot help: Smart follow system could offer new industrial robotic applications (TechRepublic)

If the robot detects an abnormal temperature, it registers the anomaly with central command. Central command then validates and correlates the anomaly via SNMP monitors. The company uses the robot's monitoring data to perform statistical process control to improve environmental and mechanical management.

Engineering students at BYU customized Boston Dynamics' Spot as part of a capstone project. 

"We've been able to work with Boston Dynamics in a way that we've come up with issues on Spot's side that Boston Dynamics has been able to fix for other owners and help progress this state-of-the-art robot," Derek Benham, a computer engineering student at BYU, said in a video interview about the project.

Student Ken Flinders said a user records missions for WIRE and then selects which ones to run in a specific order. 

Novva plans to deploy up to four dogs at the Utah data center to cover the entire facility. The company's 100-acre campus in West Jordan has 180 MW of capacity and uses a waterless cooling system and renewable energy. The company recently completed the first phase of a building plan for a 1.5 million square foot data center. Novva Data Centers provides wholesale and multi-tenant colocation infrastructure services to local, national and international customers. 

Swenson said the robot is working inside for now, but he expects to expand its patrols to the entire campus at some point. 

The Utah data center also uses an automated drone stationed outside in a weatherized and heated vestibule. It is equipped with 4k live video, infrared, FLIR, and night vision to run missions day and night. 

The drone can detect cars, heat signatures from humans, air leaks and temperature anomalies, according to the company. The drone flies pre-programmed routes that include no fly zones and minimum and maximum height elevations.  

Swenson said future security plans will synchronize aerial and ground efforts between the robot and the drone. 

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...