THE FIRST BOSTON DYNAMICS ROBOT AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC, SPOT IS A COMPANION AT HOME YET ALSO OUTDOOR READY, WITH CAPABILITIES INCLUDING LUGGING GEAR AND CREATING 3D MAPS WHEREVER IT GOES
BY EVAN MONROE
Since the earliest days of Internet video, we’ve been watching with fascination and occasional terror the robotic brainchildren of Waltham Massachusetts-based Boston Dynamics. Founded in 1992, this MIT spin-off company, acquired by Google in 2013, has principally worked with governmental (mostly military) organizations to develop semi-autonomous robots and 3-D interactive computer simulators, and regularly releases YouTube videos that have marked advancement from hulking and ungainly four-legged models that struggled to cope with single steps to its latest Atlas biped capable of running through the woods and parkour maneuvers.
Until October, however, none of company’s incredible achievements have been available to the public, then came Spot. Capable of walking up to 3 mph and with a 90-minute run time, it can operate in temperatures ranging from 113°F to -4°, and is water resistant, to boot. Like all Boston Dynamic robots, it maintains situational awareness and is capable of avoiding collisions, navigating a variety of terrain, and getting up if it falls over. An optional articulating arm allows Spot the ability to manipulate door handles and other objects, and it can even tote 31 pounds of gear. Cameras, onboard processors, and sensors create 3-D maps of any environment it gambols through. Applications still in the works will allow Spot further abilities in assisting with deliveries, home security, and other household tasks.
Log on to the company site in order to register for purchase. No price was listed at press time, but industry analysts expect it to run at least $30,000.
Spot, by Boston Dynamics