Boston Dynamics / YouTube
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The renowned robot-maker Boston Dynamics released a new, and likely highly produced, video on Monday of its latest robot “dog,” the SpotMini. From the looks of it, it’s an amazing piece of machinery with remarkably lifelike movements, showing a level of dynamism and coordination between its body and software that I’ve never seen before how to get to know the robots in the future
In the video, a little robot dog prances over to a door, only to realize it has no hands and can not open it. A few seconds later, a larger Spot dog robot that has an articulated arm with a grabber for a hand where its head should be emerges from around a corner. The bigger Spot uses its grabber to grasp the door handle and starts to pull the door to itself. The robot then opens the door with its foot, which frees its arm to stretch inside the door and push it open. It then holds it back as it moves forward. What’s impressive here is that the robot is not just agile enough to grab a door handle it or not, but it’s just as easy to grab it.
Assuming the robot is not completely remote controlled by an operator with exceptional motor skills, it seems to be able to “see” the door handle it is able to. Most robots can not do this; this one can.
Computer vision in robotics is an area that has been making rapid advancements in recent years, but it’s a tough nut to crack. In e-commerce logistics, for example, bin picking and picking things off the shelf of varied weights, colors, and sizes have been particularly challenging tasks for robots, and more robots on the warehouse floor act smart pallets that can move heavy boxes without banging into anyone’s shins or another shelf.
While Boston Dynamics is not so much a robot, it’s a robot that knows how to be a robot. level of precision and exert the right amount of force to complete its task.
At this point, there is no such thing as a machine-gun that can be used as an explosive tool, or for some other purpose that is unsafe for humans. Before it was acquired in 2013, Boston Dynamics primarily operated on research contracts from the military. Its famous humanoid robot ATLAS was funded by DARPA, the military’s experimental research arm, as was an early iteration of its quadruped robot, Big Dog. Last year, Google sold Boston Dynamics to the Japanese tech firm SoftBank, adding to the company’s already impressive robotics roster. In 2012, SoftBank acquired a majority stake in the robotics company Alderban, which makes the humanoid robot Pepper that’s supposed to be used in customer service settings. (I interacted with Pepper for the first time at the CES technology show this year, and I was not impressed .)
At TED 2017, Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert showed a video of its Spot Robot Delivering Packages to People’s Doors in Boston, Explaining that one application for its mechanized dog might be package delivery. “Raibert said onstage,” We’ve been taking our robot to our jobs. “We’re doing very well-about 70 percent of the way.” The robot’s clean casing will certainly go a long way in the future. .
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April Glaser is a slate technology writer.