What would you want a robotic dog to be? It has to be loyal, well-trained, and, of course, housebroken. But dream bigger. BostonDynamics, the robotics company currently owned by Alphabet, just announced a new robodog that can load the dishwasher, bring you soda, and then put the can in the recycling. Good dog.
Boston Dynamics has been working on quadruped robots since the 2005 debut of its BigDog combat robot. Now, more than 10 years later, the dogs have gotten smaller and smaller. BigDog weighs 240 pounds, last year's Spot weighs 160 pounds, and now there's a new member of the family. SpotMini, announced Thursday, weighs just 65 pounds.
SpotMini is no runt, though. It has an all-electric design—meaning no hydraulics—so it's light, compact, and quiet with really impressive mobility. SpotMini can crouch, army crawl, run around, do fine motions with its torso, jog up stairs, and get back on its feet after it has fallen over. The video (above) shows SpotMini walking around a house and doing domestic tasks. It doesn't exactly look natural, but the robot isn't bumping into things and isn't totally absurd in the space.
SpotMini is impressively effective and fluid. Boston Dynamics says that it can run for about 90 minutes on one charge and has specializad sensors for things like depth, navigation, and spatial awareness. It can be autonomous, but still relies on humans for complicated tasks. Sounds a lot like ... a dog. Go figure.
I...HAVE...LEARNED...TO...GENERATE...BOYS...IN...YARD pic.twitter.com/sz1WmV38Yq— BEWARE: Ed Zitron (@edzitron) June 23, 2016