Boston Dynamics' New Robot Is A Tiny Friendly Dog With An Extra Limb
Kelsey D. Atherton and Dave Gershgorn
at 12:47 PM Jun 24 2016
Boston Dynamics' New Robot Is A Tiny Friendly Dog With An Extra Limb
SpotMini Dancing
Screenshot by author, from YouTube
Robots // 

Robots are not like us. They may inhabit the same spaces, and they may mimic life in their movements, but the kinds of bodies that lend themselves to metal and springs are not the same as those built from flesh and bone. No one knows this better than Boston Dynamics, the formerly Google-owned robotmakers whose shambling, bouncing machines all look like an evolutionary tree from a metal world that forgot about skin. Their latest, SpotMini, combines all that artificial weirdness into a compact, adorable form.

No, really.

When it gets knocked down, it uses a mechanical arm on its back to get back up again.

It can climb stairs.

Bring someone a beer (and then fight them for it).

And even take care of dishes!

From Boston Dynamics:

SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot that weighs 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.

Most of these features are neat, but it's the quiet that really stands out. Boston Dynamics' Legged Support System (or LS3) was made for the military, and then rejected because it was too loud. Shortly after, Google put the company up for sale, likely in part because they lacked an immediate product for sale. SpotMini doesn't meet the same military requirements as the 400 pound LS3, but it shows these robots can be quiet, which is an absolute necessity for the battlefield.

Plus it's just a delight to see in action. Watch this thing below:

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