Robotics

Boston Dynamics introduces smaller, more kickable robot

Boston Dynamics introduces sma...
Two Spot robots operating together
Two Spot robots operating together
View 6 Images
Spot on parade with other Boston Dynamics robots
1/6
Spot on parade with other Boston Dynamics robots
Spot in the Boston Dynamics offices
2/6
Spot in the Boston Dynamics offices
Spot getting kicked
3/6
Spot getting kicked
Spot negotiating a hill
4/6
Spot negotiating a hill
Two Spot robots operating together
5/6
Two Spot robots operating together
Spot and LS2
6/6
Spot and LS2

In 2005, Boston Dynamics unveiled its robot "mule," Big Dog. Now it has a smaller, nimbler littermate called Spot that can take a good kick. Weighing in at 160 lb (72.5 kg), the electrically-powered, hydraulically-actuated, four-legged robot made its debut in a YouTube video released by the company on Tuesday.

Boston Dynamics isn't releasing many details about Spot beyond saying that it's designed for indoor and outdoor operation; preferring to let the video speak for itself. However, the footage does provide a few clues.

For one thing, Spot is the smallest of Boston Dynamics' quadruped robots (outside of the lab-bound LittleDog) and shows the cleanest engineering. It's nimbler than Big Dog, though the two may be related, and the electrical/hydraulic system, which may be derived from the company's Atlas humanoid robot, is much quieter than the internal combustion engines used by the larger robots.

Spot and LS2
Spot and LS2

Another improvement is the configuration of the legs. Where Big Dog and its derivatives use a forward-angled leg design, Spot's is angled backwards like the legs of a goat, and it hops about like one. The efficacy of this arrangement is shown in the video, which shows Spot, standing about a meter high, navigating the narrow corridors of the Boston Dynamics offices… and receiving a swift kick by one of the office workers along the way. The company's robots are well known for keeping their balance, but Spot holds its feet with only a quick, remarkably lifelike stagger.

The video indicates that it uses some sort of scanning LIDAR for navigating. It also shows Spot negotiating a rough hill, climbing a flight of stairs, running with a man, moving in tandem with another Spot, and walking alongside the company's biggest robot, the LS3.

The latter raises the question of what Spot is for. Previous Boston Dynamics quadrupeds were developed as part of a contract to create robotic pack mules to assist soldiers with their gear in rough country. That makes sense for a machine the size of a mechanical bullock, but a robotic goat is another matter. Perhaps it's designed as a robot scout or an autonomous guard dog. Or maybe the company is expanding into the mechanical pet market. We'll have to wait until Boston Dynamics tells us a bit more.

The video showing Spot in action is below.

Source: Boston Dynamics

Introducing Spot Classic (previously Spot)

11 comments
mhpr262
I find it really easy to imagine a dozen of these things, each armoured and with a light machine gun or grenade launcher in a turret on its back, jumping out the back of a 2,5 ton Army truck and assaulting an enemy position or patrolling a village.
Deres
If they want to make a recon bot, that would also take the higly dangerious role of being the man leading a patrol, they should mount a visual sensor package higher in a sort of head. In fact, it would be desirable to give it a centaurus form, looking like a man from the front. In this way, ennemies could believe it is a normal soldier part of teh patrol and not a recon bot.
ezeflyer
Incredible. I hope they use them for peaceful purposes.
Craig Nowakowski
Don't kick my dog! Wow, this generation of prototype this nimble. A soldiers best friend, I'll take the German Shepard version.
Bob Flint
Take it a step further and dress it up to simulate an animal, perhaps a small horse, cow or goat depending on the local it's intended to infiltrate, observe, perhaps leave a steaming pile of explosives behind..
*&**&
I have a major problem with this. (terminator &such)
Nairda
You can tell the evolutionary step. They must have taken a few learnings from the Cheetah. It also seems to handle different gradients better then big dog did. Happy days !
RESISTANCE
Pretty soon we'll have AMEE (from the Red Planet movie) It will be a cross between a German Shepard and a Green Beret. Would have loved to have had something like this on patrols during Desert Storm. It would be great if they offered something like this for guarding your home. No picking up poop in bags, no fleas, no shots, and no crazy expensive vet bills. Just swap out batteries like a drill.
JPAR
forget drone based home delivery systems - it'll be these dogs that start delivering your shopping. Can see a fleet of these things being run out of each Domino's - cheaper than paying a student to ride a moped.
owlbeyou
Remarkable, and much more stable than a biped machine. I'm ok about using this tech for personal or scientific purposes (on the moon or mars--- space exploration), than if it becomes just another war gadget.