Science

Robot Dog Dances, Recycles, Does Dishes

Boston Dynamics generates another viral video with its latest robotic quadraped, SpotMini.

Boston Dynamics generates another viral video with its latest robotic quadraped, SpotMini.

Boston Dynamics seems like a fun place to work, and by “fun” I mean “terrifying.” Every few months, engineers at the robotics company post a new video of their latest project, and they never fail to impress. And by “impress” I mean “frighten me badly.”

 

I’m prone to paranoia around these issues, though, so I’ll just present the facts: A new viral video is making the rounds showcasing the company’s latest creation, SpotMini — a quadraped robot about the size and weight of a golden retriever. It’s a smaller version of the company’s older robotic dog, rather predictably named Spot.

SpotMini weighs in at 55 lbs, plus 10 more for the detachable, articulated device, which actually moves like the head and neck of a dinosaur. Unlike its predecessor, the SpotMini is an all-electric bot, with no hydraulic components.

An extensive array of sensors and 3-D depth cameras on the robot allow it to interpret its environment and perform many tasks autonomously, according to the designers. In the demo video, SpotMini is seen navigating a dining room area, crouching down to get under the table and presumably search for scraps. (What kind of scraps do you feed a robot dog? The silverware?)

In another sequence, the robot trots into the kitchen and reaches into the sink. It delicately picks up a glass and deposits it into the dishwasher. Then it grabs a can and places it in recycling.

SpotMini also climbs stairs, performs some strange circular dance ritual, and rights itself to all fours after slipping on the hardwood floor. It’s like having your drunk uncle in the house, only in the guise of a robotic quadraped with a dinosaur neck/arm growing out of its back.

Boston Dynamics was recently put up for sale by Google, but that’s clearly not impeding the company’s progress in developing robots. All kidding aside, the SpotMini video really is something to behold. Be sure to stick around to the end for a disturbing funny blooper.

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