Boston Dynamics’ new SpotMini has lost its head, but it’s friskier than ever

The slogan on Boston Dynamic’s website reads, “Changing your idea of what robot’s can do,” but for some people it may as well say, “Giving you nightmares tonight and forever more,” or perhaps, “Here’s another robot to freak you out.”

So, here’s another Boston Dynamics robot to freak you out. One that may give you nightmares.

It’s the latest version of the SpotMini, the doglike bot that the SoftBank-owned company debuted in 2016.

In a short video posted on Monday, November 13, the new SpotMini comes bounding into view looking much more agile and frisky than its predecessor, a testament to the unquestionable talent and expertise of Boston Dynamic’s committed team of engineers.

Gone is that creepy retractable arm/neck/head thingy that allowed the SpotMini to do chores around the house like load up the dishwasher and throw away trash. Instead, we’re left looking at a robot dog that appears to have had its head lopped off. It won’t get much done around the house looking like that, though it might be good at scaring the bejeezus out of any would-be burglars.

The sensors designed to keep the new SpotMini on its toes appear to be inside that odd-looking neck stump as well as on its torso, though we can’t be sure. That’s because Boston Dynamics isn’t giving much away about the latest version of its robot dog. Beneath the video posted on YouTube, the Massachusetts-based company says only: “For more information … stay tuned.”

Boston Dynamics describes its original SpotMini as “a small four-legged robot that fits comfortably inside the office or home.” With owner SoftBank already selling a home-based humanoid robot called Pepper to folks in Japan with 198,000 yen (about $1,800) to burn, could Boston Dynamics be readying SpotMini as a dog replacement? A “dog” that doesn’t need feeding or clearing up after; one you can take for a walk around the block even though you really don’t need to do that. In fact, could SpotMini one day shove Rover aside to become man’s best friend?

We have no idea what Boston Dynamics has planned for SpotMini or any of its other extraordinary robots for that matter, but we sure enjoy checking out what steps — or indeed wheels — out of the workshop each time it completes a project. Like Boston Dynamics says, stay tuned.

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