Ever wished your dog could carry the groceries? Your pooch may have missed that class in puppy school, but the Boston Dynamics robodog can do it for you. Yep, that’s “robo” for “robot”. The company’s electronical metal dog, Spot, is now available to the public.
Until now, you may have seen Boston Dynamics’ creepy videos of four-legged robots doing reindeer moves
or awe-inspiring parkour (free running)
but this crazy creature is a whole lot less alarming. Check out its moves (and try not to feel bad for it when it has an accident at 01:01 – IT DOESN’T FEEL PAIN, after all)
Want to hang out with it? You might when you learn more about what it can do.
It can carry weights of up to 14 kg which means you’re never going to carry your own backpack again. If you’re a (very laid back) jogger, Spot will canter alongside you at the laid-back speed of up to 4,8 km/h. Probably better for a brisk walk on the promenade, then.
Spot’s not scared of staircases and can handle tricky terrain. It has a programmable API so you can alter its – ahem – consciousness (or, at least, its code). And while it doesn’t come with dog’s ears (fail) or even seem to have a neck (um…), it can respond to visual and physical stimuli, read its environment, and adjust like a real canine can.
We’ll admit, its illuminated eyes are a little spooky, but Spot has a 360-degree view of the world, so it can avoid (slow) collisions. We’re less sure about it crossing the road.
It’s not clear how much the battery itself weighs, so Spot might not work on long hikes over an hour and a half because that’s the full capacity of its swappable battery… unless it’s carrying its own second wind along with your backpack, of course 😉.
So, while it’s not great on stamina, Spot is built for climate change and manages better than most mammals in extreme temperatures. It will still operate in freezing conditions down to -20 degrees Celsius and performs perfectly in swelters of up to +45 degrees Celsius.
Speaking of weather, Spot won’t rust or ever smell of wet dog when you go jogging together in the rain. You do go jogging in the rain, right? If you didn’t before, you might start now, just to show the neighbours who keep getting all the double-taps for their virtual Porsche a thing or two.
The good news is that limited numbers of Spots are available to rent on pre-order to the public. The bad news is that Spot costs around the same as a new car, according to Wired.
Does it herald a new age of companionship? A semi-automatic system like this that can walk by your side, or take a run outside by itself, certainly pokes at it. Still, it’s probably going to take some time and a lot of artificial intelligence before a real dog’s ability to provide companionship can be emulated by pieces of code. Still useful for carrying things, though.
What would you do with Spot if you got to hang with the mechanical animal for the weekend? Tell us on our Facebook page for pets and their people.
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