Spot the robot dog is now available for general sale — but it ain’t cheap

Boston Dynamics’ remarkably versatile Spot robot is now on general sale for a cool $74,500.

While it could conceivably become someone’s very expensive replacement for a dearly departed pet dog, the U.S. company is, in reality, aiming the highly advanced robot at a range of industries.

We’ve already seen Spot strutting its stuff on a farm, a construction site, and in a hospital, and a look at its latest video (above) is bound to conjure up a myriad of other ideas for tasks that it could comfortably carry out.

How it has changed

Spot has clearly come a long way since its early days as a clunkier, much less nimble machine. Boston Dynamics unveiled a basic version of Spot in 2015, but videos of its previous efforts at building a quadruped robot reveal an interest going back at least 11 years.

Take, for example, LittleDog, unveiled in 2009. LittleDog, which looking at it could easily have been called BigCockroach, was a super-simple version of Spot. Here you can see it tackling some tricky terrain …

Later that same year we met BigDog, which, would you believe, was a bigger version of LittleDog …

LS3, which appeared in 2012, had a walking style a little more reminiscent of today’s Spot …

And then there was WildCat, which was, well, kind of terrifying …

In 2015, Boston Dynamics showed off Spot for the very first time, and everyone was very impressed …

… except when it did this …

The all-new Spot, which very much resembles the current design, appeared in 2017, and it wasn’t long before it gained the smarts to navigate autonomously …

A subsequent video showed off its robustness …

The latest version of Spot features a top speed of 3 mph and can function for up to 90 minutes on a single charge. It has a programmable API for improved versatility, a 360-degree camera for obstacle avoidance and location mapping, and two ports for payloads to help it perform particular tasks. Seven are available at launch, costing from $1,275 to $34,570.

Spot can function autonomously or be operated remotely, and can go places humans can’t (think radiation, smoke, challenging terrain). It can also take a hit that would put most of us in hospital, and won’t complain if it gets wet or runs out of energy (the battery is swappable). It can work as part of a team of Spots, carry loads, and entertain. Heck, it’ll even politely open the door for you as you enter a room. And as you leave, after you’ve learned that it has taken your job.

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