Softbank’s Boston Dynamics Re-Boot’s Spot The Mini Robot Dog
Move over Rosie from the Jetsons, a Boston robotics firm has created, and then improved their version of Astro. Except his name isn’t Astron, it’s Spot and he (or she) is a mini dog robot.
Back in June 2017, the Japanese multi national conglomerate acquired Boston Dymanics for an undisclosed sum. You may remember that Google had originally acquired Boston Dynamics. The company is the creator of the BigDog quadrupled (Spot’s big brother) and the Atlas humanoid robots. At Google they were part of the moonshot team with Android founder Andy Rubin overseeing most of the project before leaving to start his own companies, including Essential.
Softbank already had a robotics arm called SoftBank robotics and it’s still not clear if they will merge in any way.
In the meantime it’s full speed ahead with the projects that Boston Dynamics has been working on, including the robotic dog project.
Under the leadership of Softbank and naturally with the capital behind it, they were able to retool the BigDog, make it smaller and aesthetically more pleasing with the new plastic yellow sides as seen in the video above.
Roboticstrends reports that not only did the dog robot get new skin (ala the yellow plastic) but it also ditched a robotic arm that was found on top of the original version. SpotMini can now see better with new 3D vision cameras on it’s side and back helping with obstacle avoidance.The movements also seem much more natural compared to actual dogs. SpotMini kind of bounces or gallops around, similar to a dog the size of a Boxer or a Pit Bull. There’s no tail but the body bounces similarly to the way a dog does.
The original SpotMini was introduced in 2016. It’s designed to be a companion robot and can do chores around the house like picking things up off the floor and loading the dishwasher. Roboticstrends reported last year that the robot dog still needs human guidance for more upper level tasks but Boston Dynamics didn’t specify which tasks those were.
I think we can all agree that the newest iteration of SpotMini doesn’t look quite as creepy as the original but it’s still amazingly cool.