Reggie is not an average dog.
Central High School’s “newest mascot,” according to Jefferson County Public Schools, doesn’t have fur, but it can complete math equations. It doesn’t have a tail, but soon it’ll have a crane. It can’t bark, but it can hold a can.
Central is now just one of two schools in the country to own a Spotbot – a four-legged robot that can walk and sit, but also make a 3D map of the school and perform other tasks.
The robot is named Reggie and was designed by Boston Dynamics Engineering. It came with a $ 77,000 price tag, which was paid with federal grant funds, according to Christopher Brown, one of the coaches of the Louisville Centrons Robotics Team.
Reggie gives Central’s STEM students a unique opportunity to develop programming and coding skills as the school’s robotics team competes at events.
“The cool thing about this is it gives our kids an opportunity to just be above where everybody else is and have everybody 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 survey an area while being controlled from another location. It can report data and even complete difficult math equations.
Of course, it’s a dog, too – it doesn’t have fur, but Reggie can sit, run and act out other canine behavior.
The school is waiting for a mechanical arm that will be attached to the robot dog. That $ 60,000 addition will be acquired on a loan from the company to help Central develop a robotics curriculum that other schools can later use. This add-on will help Reggie perform more tricks, like picking up objects.
These tricks were put on display in a recent Samuel Adams commercial shown on Super Bowl Sunday, where the Spotbot was featured opening cans of beer.
Brown said amid an ongoing labor shortage, robots like Reggie can help supply the demand for workers and help businesses.
Brown, who has taught at Central for 15 years, said his students will tour 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 showcase this work on their college applications. They are all juniors at Central and helped with Reggie’s coding and programming as part of a team of more than a dozen students.
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Cyber engineering students will travel to Boston this month and tour the Boston Dynamics headquarters, along with Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They will meet the engineers that work with the Spotbot while they’re in the city, Brown said.
There are some stereotypes of the West End, Brown said, that he hopes the robotics team’s work can help put to rest.
“Central High School is a great place to be, it’s a great place to teach, it’s a great place to work,” he said. “To have this opportunity for our kids is amazing.”
Reach Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow her on Twitter at @SoyAnaAlvarez