Boston Dynamics wants to bring their robots to the masses starting with the redesigned SpotMini. SpotMini’s updated designs do away with its creepy long neck and mechanical dog head. (Photo via Boston Dynamics)
Boston Dynamics quickly became a household name when videos of their robots eerily moving around like humans, went viral. Since then, the company has gathered more than 225 million views on their site. Now, they’re ready to bring their robots to the masses. Boston Dynamics founder, March Raibert, revealed at a TechCrunch robotics event that their robotic dog, SpotMini, is currently in preproduction. They’ll start selling the robots in 2019.
So far, the company has built 10 prototypes of the mechanical quadruped and is working with manufacturing partners to build 100 more this year. The real question is why would you buy one and who can buy one? Raibert didn’t reveal anything about pricing but noted how the bot could be used for security patrol or surveying the goings on at construction sites. It can even be customized with attachments and extra software for specific jobs. The company does hope to sell it for use in people’s homes eventually.
The somewhat creepy, but kind of cute SpotMini started development when the company was a Google subsidiary and has an impressive range of movement. It can climb stairs, and the first version not only walked but rolled over and put objects in a dishwasher as well. Last year it was upgraded to sleeker, less terrifying design. The original had a long neck and a weird dog shaped head. The new version gets rid of the long neck and can now walk by itself using autonomous navigation. It uses four cameras to determine where obstacles are and how it can get around them. This new autonomous navigation still requires the bot to be driven manually across an area. This way it can figure out to move around the space on its own. It can even open a door for another robot. Talk about good manners.
Recently, the company released a new video featuring its Humanoid Atlas robot, which is close to five feet tall. The video shows the robot outside jogging on the grass and running over a log. Atlas can even open doors, lift things like boxes and do a backflip, though sometimes it doesn’t always stick the landing.
Last year, Boston Dynamics was acquired by Japan’s Softbank from Google’s parent Alphabet (GOOG). Since the takeover, Raibert has been considering bringing more of his robots to the mass market and wants the company to create some “practical products.” But they still haven’t answered the real question: Why would anyone want one of these in the first place? Sounds like a bad idea waiting to happen.
I predict no less that $10,000 USD for a SpotMini.
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