Reggie is not an average dog.
According to Jefferson County Public Schools, Central High School’s “new mascot” has no fur, but can complete math equations. It has no tail, but soon it will have a crane. It can’t bark, but it can hold a can.
Central is now one of two schools in the country to have a Spotbot – a four-legged robot that can walk and sit, but also create a 3D map of the school and perform other tasks.
The robot is called Reggie and was designed by Boston Dynamics Engineering. He came with a prize of $77,000, which was paid for with federal grants, according to Christopher Brown, one of the coaches of the Louisville Centrons Robotics Team.
Reggie offers Central’s STEM students a unique opportunity to develop programming and coding skills as the school’s robotics team participates in events.
“The cool thing is that it gives our kids the opportunity to be right on top of everyone else and have everyone catch up to them,” Brown said.
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The robotic dog can create 3D scale maps, using its camera to track locations in front of it. It can monitor an area while being controlled from another location. It can report data and even complete difficult math equations.
Of course, he’s also a dog – he has no fur, but Reggie can sit, run, and perform other canine behaviors.
The school is waiting for a mechanical arm that will be attached to the robot dog. This $60,000 addition will be acquired through a loan from the company to help Central develop a robotics program that other schools can use in the future. This add-on will help Reggie perform more tricks like picking up items.
These tricks were exposed in a recent Samuel Adams Advertising shown on Super Bowl Sunday, where the Spotbot was featured holding beer cans.
Brown said amid an ongoing labor shortage, robots like Reggie can help meet the demand for workers and help businesses.
Brown, who taught at Central for 15 years, said his students will visit other schools and businesses to showcase the robot’s skills and the work done by the robotics team.
Students like Bismah Rana, Gia Patel and Jayel Boyd plan to feature this work on their college applications. They are all juniors at Central and have helped with Reggie’s coding and programming as part of a team of over a dozen students.
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Cyber engineering students will travel to Boston this month and visit Boston Dynamics headquarters, as well as Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They’ll meet the engineers working with the Spotbot while they’re in town, Brown said.
There are some West End stereotypes, Brown said, which he hopes the robotics team’s work can help put to rest.
“Central High School is a great place, it’s a great place to teach, it’s a great place to work,” he said. “To have this opportunity for our children is amazing.”
Contact Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter at @SoyAnaAlvarez