SpotMini in office facility

Who let the (robot) dogs out? Boston Dynamics.

Image credit: Boston Dynamics

The SoftBank-owned robotics company has released its much-hyped quadruped robot, Spot, for select customers.

Boston Dynamics was acquired by X (Alphabet’s experimental projects branch) in 2013, which subsequently sold the company to Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in 2017. The company has gained recognition for its robotic quadrupeds and bipeds, which eerily mimic the natural movements of humans and other animals.

A 2018 video depicting one of its dog-like Spot robots opening a door using a claw in the usual place of a head to turn the handle, while resisting human force, attracted millions of views.

For several months, Boston Dynamics has teased a public release for its Spot robot. Now, the Massachusetts-based company has released a new video promoting the commercial launch of Spot.

The latest video follows the quadruped robot navigating a workplace, including extremely uneven and steep surfaces. The robot pauses to avoid collisions with people and other robots, stabilises itself after a collision, carries a payload, and finally settles on the floor in a dog-like manner. The video boasts 360° vision, dust- and waterproofing, two payload ports with a maximum payload of 14kg, and a top speed of 1.6m per second. It is capable of carrying up to four hardware modules on its back – such as a prehensile claw or gas detector – allowing for owners to customise their robot to their needs.

For now, the robot will only be shipped to ‘select early customers’ for use in public safety, on construction sites, and in gas and power installations; companies must submit an application to the Boston Dynamics website in order to purchase a Spot robot of their own. Last year, Boston Dynamics revealed that it planned to manufacture approximately 1,000 Spot robots per year.

The price of a Spot robot remains unknown.

This week, Boston Dynamics also released a video (‘More Parkour Atlas’) demonstrating advances made in its humanoid ‘Atlas’ robot, which is designed to carry out search and rescue tasks. Atlas – which has previously been depicted jogging and performing backflips – can now be seen performing an entire floor routine, with forward rolls, handstands, and jumps.

Sign up to the E&T News e-mail to get great stories like this delivered to your inbox every day.

Recent articles