Boston Dynamics is rightly known for its extremely lively humanoid and dog-like robots that are delightful and freaky at the same time. These bots can run, do backflips, withstand kicks and shoves and even balance on uneven terrain. The famous robot firm has now announced its much-big milestone and stated that it is bringing its first ever commercial product – a four-legged robot called Spot in the market later this year.
CEO Marc Raibert told The Verge that these bots are currently being tested and undergoing a few final tweaks before taking the final shape. Although there’s no solid for Spot’s launch date disclosed yet, the CEO said that it would be available within months.
A pair of Spot robots engaged with the crowd at Amazon’s RE:Mars conference in Las Vegas recently. Viral videos showing the bots surfaced on the internet soon after, showing them to be absolutely polished and autonomous. However, they were actually being controlled by two Boston Dynamics employees using modified gaming tablets. Contrary to what is usually believed about the company’s robots, these machines require human handlers. They’re surely able to navigate surroundings on their own, but only when they’ve been mapped in advance.
At the advanced robot machine learning event, the robot handlers showed how simple it is to control the bots. They can be steered and animated like any mechanical toy car with a D-pad. Spot is also equipped with a front-facing camera that enables you to see what lies ahead on them and decide their path. Another tap lets you control a robot arm mounted on the top of the console to pick up things like books and other similar items. The overall experience of making the robot work appears to be quite intuitive.
Spot can perform a range of tasks, including opening doors, picking up books, or other similar items and map hazardous environments like construction sites. Its athletic intelligence is what counts as its USP. But like any other gadget, it also comes with its own share of malfunctions and lack of spontaneous agile skills that come naturally to humans like catching a ball and that the company is busy making amends for it. As technology turns into a business, it will be interesting to see how affordable they are to other firms which plan to buy them for surveillance as human resource is always cheaper than high-maintenance gadgets.