Boston Dynamics, a company capable of sending chills down the spines of AI critics and conspiracy theorists, is not foreign to anyone who’s vigilant about new developments in tech. Even if you don’t know the company by its name, you must have surely seen videos of its four-legged dextrous robot which instantly evokes a reaction straight out of Black Mirror.
Now, the company is ready to build these dog-like robots on a commercial scale and will make the SpotMini available for sale in 2019. Marc Raibert, the founder of Boston Dynamics made this announcement during “TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics” conference organized at UC Berkeley.
The SpotMini is inspired by its elder brother BigDog (no, it cannot rap) which was created by Boston Dynamics in 2005. But unlike BigDog, which was recruited into the US Army for carrying bags, SpotMini is more likely to find its place in offices or on production floors. The company also plans to put these robots into your home but want to first evaluate its performance in business applications.
Raibert declined to disclose the price of the SpotMini but said that the current version is ten times cheaper than the earlier prototypes. Boston Dynamics also claims that it is their quietest robot so far – this is important because many of its earlier robots were shelved because of their wheezy humanoid noise.
Spot Mini has arrived #TCRobotics pic.twitter.com/IiugHH2U5X
— TechCrunch (@TechCrunch) May 11, 2018
Boston Dynamics is planning to start commercial sales after making prototypes for the government for almost 25 years – and with the world just learning to get comfortable with AI, it feels right at home. To begin with, it aims to produce 100 of the SpotMini robots this year for sale in the first half of 2019. Based on the response, the production will be adjusted to meet demand.
Buyers can customize their SpotMinis based on their requirements, ranging from the popular door-opening arm, or special back-mountable cameras for security. The best part (and probably the most worrying, too) is that these robots operate autonomously and operators must walk the SpotMini around only initially so that it learns about the surroundings.
We’re really excited to see how the SpotMini by Boston Dynamics helps reduce laborious work and befriend real fluffy beings in pet-friendly offices. Let’s just hope they don’t turn rogue on us.