Boston Dynamics, better known for the hulking robot brute known as ATLAS, has just revealed a considerably smaller creation that looks like a cross between a golden retriever and a baby giraffe. But forget about it just replacing your family pet: SpotMini looks like it can replace your housecleaner too.
Weighing just 25kg on its own, or 29kg with its long articulated arm attached, SpotMini skips the hydraulics that Boston Dynamics’ other robots rely on, exclusively using electric motors to move around. On a full charge it can quietly roam about your house for a full 90 minutes depending on what chores you have it doing.
It’s got a full suite of sensors on board for navigating almost any environment, and the robo-dog can tackle stairs better than most adults can.
Like a real dog it can even be taught or guided by a human to perform countless tasks. But instead of just sitting, staying put or shaking a paw, the SpotMini can perform simple household chores like delivering snacks and drinks — although clearly there are still some kinks to be worked out.
Like humans and your favourite cartoon characters, SpotMini isn’t immune to slippery banana peels. But unlike countless other robots that require a human’s assistance to get back on their feet after a fall, SpotMini can use its articulated arm to right itself, and its nimble legs to stand back up. Looking at that test facility, this certainly isn’t the first time the robot has taken a tumble.
That articulated arm, and the gripping head on the end of it, are technological marvels all on their own. Using a solid state gyro, it’s able to perfectly hold its position in 3D space while the rest of SpotMini is frantically moving around. In a real world situation, this would allow the robot to precisely handle dangerous or fragile materials, while the rest of the robot could reposition itself to avoid hazards or other moving obstacles.