Robot Dog SpotMini From Boston Dynamics Can Open Doors With Its Jaw

robot dog spotmini boston dynamics
The SpotMini is the most stealthy robot that Boston Dynamics has built. Boston Dynamics

After the collapse of human society, the last remaining humans are relentlessly hunted by AI-enabled robotic dogs set on killing their fleshy creators. This is one of the dystopian visions from the sci-fi series Black Mirror, which alarmists might argue drew one step closer on Monday following the unveiling of Boston Dynamics's latest Promethean creation

The pioneering robotics firm released a video showing the most recent generation of its SpotMini—a robot dog that is capable of opening doors using its extendable neck and jaws. the company describes the robo-dog as, "a nimble robot that handles objects, climbs stairs, and will operate in offices, homes and outdoors," though its exact use case is yet to be determined.

The SpotMini is a shrunken version of another Boston Dynamics robot called Spot, which is itself an evolution from the BigDog robot that inspired the 2017 Black Mirror episode, Metalhead.

"SpotMini inherits all of the mobility of its bigger brother, Spot, while adding the ability to pick up and handle objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors," Boston Dynamics explains on its website.

Sensors include cameras to measure depth at the front of its body, force sensors in its limbs, and an inertial measurement unit (IMU) that measures acceleration and rotation—all of which help the SpotMini navigate and manipulate objects like door handles.

It's happening #BlackMirror

— Dᴀʟʟᴀs (@SrDallas_RM) February 12, 2018

Beyond robot dogs, Boston Dynamics has also showcased humanoid robots capable of feats that only the most athletic humans can perform. In November, the company posted a video online of its Atlas robot executing a backflip.

Atlas was originally developed for use in the U.S. military and before landing the backflip had previously showcased its ability to navigate rough terrain, pick up objects and self-right when pushed to the ground.

Boston Dynamics, which technology firm SoftBank acquired from Google's parent company Alphabet last year, has not revealed the exact applications for its suite of robots but they will likely go much further than the assistant and receptionist positions that robots currently occupy.

Read more: Boston Dynamics unveils latest Atlas robot, capable of doing backflips

Cautious of the threat that such advanced robots may pose, hundreds of leading academics in the fields of philosophy, robotics and artificial intelligence signed an open letter in 2017 calling for a ban on weaponized robots that are able to autonomously decide whether people live or die.

spotmini black mirror metalhead robot dog
The SpotMini includes an extendable neck that allows it to navigate past objects like closed doors. Boston Dynamics

The letter stated: "If developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. The deadly consequence of this is that machines—not people—will determine who lives and dies."

Boston Dynamics CEO and founder Marc Raibert said at the time of the SoftBank acquisition that his company's mission was to "push the boundaries of what advanced robots can do"—hopefully whatever that involves won't be within the context of a post-apocalyptic world.