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Getting to Know the Veeam Recovery Rover: A Q&A with Anthony Spiteri

It’s small, green, designed to protect and perform, and you may have seen it roaming around with the Veeam Team at recent events — it’s the Recovery Rover.

This state-of-the-art cyber dog has been turning heads since it first debuted at events earlier this year. I sat down with one of the Recovery Rover handlers, Anthony Spiteri, Regional CTO for APJ, to learn more about this mysterious new addition and what it can teach us about data protection.

Alright, Anthony. I’ve Seen the Recovery Rover in Various Posts and Videos. Where Did the Idea Come From?

“We partnered with an outside creative agency named Konkering, and they suggested a few big bets to create some buzz around our Veeam Data Platform launch — including this one. It seemed like a good idea, and we started thinking — rather than just doing podcasts or other content, what could we do that would cause a storm? This has completely done that,” said Anthony.

He went on to explain that there are four Recovery Rovers traversing different regions globally.

“Everywhere they go, they turn heads,” he said. “People ask questions — it’s an absolute conversation starter.”

So Once This Idea Was Born, Boston Dynamics Helped Bring It to Life?

“They have a huge history of robotics — they’ve been doing it for the past 20 to 30 years,” he said. “It’s a very interesting company. And now that they’re owned by Hyundai, it has allowed them to really ramp up their production.”

Although many tech enthusiasts have known about Boston Dynamics from the beginning, it wasn’t until their technology appeared on a national TV show that the larger public began to take notice.

“Boston Dynamics had just released the dancing functionality and it appeared on Jimmy Fallon, and the team and I had known of other companies using them on show floors. So, when the idea came through, it was taken up immediately” he said.

What Is the Main Message That the Recovery Rover Brings to These Events?

“It’s a great piece of technology that exemplifies where we are in terms of technical innovation. It’s an autonomous decision-making platform; it’s not AI-enabled, but it’s aware of its surroundings and can make decisions based on what it sees. It’s an adaptive robotic platform,” he said.

“Data protection is so crucial to Veeam’s success, and the SPOT platform is generating data every second of operation. The whole platform is observing the world and collecting data for processing, future analysis as well as the data it generates through its own system logs. It’s not just a typical Edge device or data center anymore; it’s an autonomous robotic platform that you can buy off the shelf.”

“That data ends up being storage somewhere, and that data needs to be protected. If that data is deemed critical to a business, you’ve got to back it up,” he said.

How Long Did It Take You To Learn How To Interact With the Recovery Rover? Was There Some Trial and Error Involved, or Was It Intuitive From the Start ?

Anthony and the team explained that he, along with the other Rover handlers, participated in a two-day training at the Boston Dynamics headquarters so they could fully understand the functionality and safety features of the Rover before taking it on the road.

“The controller tablet has the software on there to control the unit. If you’ve ever played a computer game, it’s got the same dynamics — up and down, back and forth. What takes time is getting used to the actual robot itself, And what I mean by that is the visceral reaction to what we grew up believing the future would be like being right in front of you and in your control” he said.

“When you have control, it is super, super responsive. Very agile due to its infrared cameras and sensors that are feeding back data all the time, so it’s always taking in that data to make sure it’s not crashing into objects. Thankfully, It’s pretty good at detecting humans.”

What’s the Coolest Moment You’ve Had With the Recovery Rover So Far?

Anthony had fast answers to my other questions, but this one gave him some pause — there were too many to choose from.

“Having it on stage at VeeamON was pretty something I was keen on. Being able to talk about the technology, putting it on an autonomous mission and talking about the why of the platform. Being able to programmatically interact with it through its software development kit and getting it to do things autonomously through code shows its extensibility,” he said.

He added that going to Boston Dynamics to learn about this technology was also memorable — like the movie “Night at the Museum,” but with robots.

“During the Boston Dynamics HQ visit, we were given a tour of the factory. As we were walking around, side by side with multiple SPOTs on autonomous missions, we got to see engineering, mechanics, coders, developers and support … but the coolest thing as mentioned was seeing all the robots walking around, just and people acting like it was no big deal…. the future was right there in that building”

I Can Imagine It’s Been Interesting Bringing a Little Green Robotic Dog With You to Events. What Has the Reaction Been From People?

“Some people react to it simply being a robot before they really understand what it is. It’s sort of in our psyche not to trust these things, but there are also others who want to check it out and take a selfie with it,” he said.

He explained that the interactions that the Recovery Rover has helped facilitate have definitely been worth it for the team.

“There’s absolutely no doubt whether it’s good or bad. These things turn heads, and when you’re looking to start a conversation, it doesn’t matter how you start the conversation. It’s one of the best icebreakers of all time, right?”

Follow the Recovery Rover in Your Region

Where’s the Recovery Rover going next? Follow its journey and check it out at an event near you!