With about 30 years experience building autonomous robots, Boston Dynamics proves it has the right stuff with this latest promotional video, showing their dog-sized SpotMini not just dancing, but looking like he’s enjoying it. Watching a robot twerk convincingly may be the best thing you’ll see all day.
The SpotMini in its current form is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home. It weighs 25 kg (30 kg if you include the arm). SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, and so far is the quietest robot Boston Dynamics has made.
SpotMini inherits all of the mobility of its bigger brother, Spot, while adding the ability to pick up and handle objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors. The sensor suite includes stereo cameras, depth cameras, an IMU for sensing its own inertia, and position/force sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. This gives it enough capability to do things like manage rough terrain with relative ease — and open doors.
In this video, two SpotMini’s, one with an arm attached, negotiate a closed shop door. The one with the arm opens the door and holds the door open until the other one passes through it.
The initial Boston Dynamics prototypes were intended for military use. However, while large enough to handle significant payloads, they were also loud as chainsaws and far too noisy for use in combat scenarios. The knowledge gained in the construction of these bots was not to be wasted, though. The fluidity and ability of these bots is astonishing, and gives us a hint as to how far it’s possible to go with a quadruped robot.
The SpotMini purportedly will be made available for sale to the public in 2019. Exactly what people will use it for and how much it will cost remains to be seen. Boston Dynamics has made no announcements on suggested retail prices, but it’s likely to be in the tens of thousands of dollars.