Boston Dynamics is trying to make fetch happen with its new working robot dog

Even if your particular job manages to evade the robot invasion, you might, at the very least, end up with a robot colleague or two before too long.

Huge strides have been made with robotic technology in recent years, with robots that once stumbled and fumbled now able to run and jump between tricky obstacles and even perform backflips. Boston Dynamics is a name that comes up again and again, and that’s because the SoftBank-owned technology company is at the top of its game when it comes to building some of these incredibly skillful robots.

Having hardly had a chance to grab our jaws from the floor after witnessing Boston Dynamics’ bipedal Atlas robot pull some extraordinary parkour moves, the company has now unveiled the latest version of its Spot robo-dog, and it wants to put it in the workplace.

Giving a rather more low-key (though no less impressive) performance than Atlas, a new video shows Spot apparently acting as a kind of robotic supervisor. Watch as it autonomously navigates a couple of construction sites while using a specialized payload for surveying work progress. A camera located at the end of its extendable arm enables Spot to do additional inspection work on site, the company said.

Spot, which sports a sleeker design than before and resembles more than ever the smaller SpotMini, comfortably handles a myriad of tight turns, staircases, and other obstacles as it proceeds through the different sites.

At one point, rather amusingly, the robo-dog suddenly stops, raises its extendable arm, and opens its mouth-like grabber in a way that suggests that it’s just seen something unspeakable happen across the way. But then, in a flash, Spot regains its focus and continues on its way.

It’s notable that Boston Dynamics has sent Spot into a construction site, a challenging environment that, due to its very nature, is constantly changing and full of physical obstacles. The message is clear: If Spot can navigate a place like this, it can handle anywhere.

As usual, Boston Dynamics hasn’t revealed a great deal about Spot’s specs, or what specific plans it has for incorporating the robot into the workplace, but it nevertheless feels ready to launch its remarkable creation into the big wide world with plans to commercialize it in 2019 “for a variety of applications.”

Be sure to check out this piece for a fascinating look at how BostonDynamics’ robo-dog technology has developed over the years, from the somewhat terrifying BigDog to the creepy LittleDog, all the way to the stunning SpotMini.


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