SpotMini: Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog Conquers Puny Human

If Boston Dynamics' latest video showcasing the abilities of its robot dog SpotMini proves anything, the humans will be major underdogs when the mechanical uprising finally comes.

The clip demonstrates the machine’s ability to “adjust to disturbances,” in the form of a man armed with a hockey stick. It builds upon footage released last week, on February 12, showing two dog-like robots walking up to a door and one opening it with its jaw. They strut though and the door slams, as we witness a momentary glimpse of the future.

In the fresh test released Wednesday, shown in a YouTube video titled “Testing Robustness,” the man attempts to stop the robot from opening the door.

Spoiler alert: he fails. The man tugs the yellow-colored machine back using a black rope, dislodging a part of its casing in the process. But even as its legs fumble for grip SpotMini fights back, breaking free.

Upon command, it regains composure and autonomously makes its way through the door. For those concerned, researchers confirmed the test did “not irritate or harm the robot.”

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

Boston Dynamics explained that “a camera in the hand finds the door handle, cameras on the body determine if the door is open or closed and navigate through the doorway. Software provides locomotion, balance and adjusts behavior when progress gets off track.”

Experts said that “the ability to tolerate and respond automatically to disturbances like these improves successful operation of the robot.”

SpotMini is described on the Boston Dynamics website as a “small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home.” It is powered solely by electricity and, on a fully-charged battery, stays active for approximately 90 minutes.

It’s just one of many inventions being developed by the company, which was purchased by SoftBank last year, acquired from Alphabet Inc, parent company of U.S tech giant Google.

Other robots include the LS3, funded by DARPA and the US Marine Corps and designed to hold supplies for soldiers on a mission. Another, SandFlea, is a 4-wheeled robot shaped like a RC car, able to launch itself 10m into the air. A third, like Atlas, is designed to mimic the movement of humans and can manipulate objects in its environment.

As previously reported, experts in academia and artificial intelligence last year pleaded with Canadian president Justin Trudeau to place a ban on weaponized robots. They feared that machines–not people–would soon be able to “determine who lives and dies.”

SoftBank’s CEO, Masayoshi Son, said last year during the acquisition that he believed smart robots will become “a key driver of the next stage of the Information Revolution.” For better or worse, that next stage may soon be a reality.