The Google-funded robotics lab responsible for uncanny"dog-like" robots has released a video of its strangest household bot yet.
The best/worst part? The way the bot slips on a banana peel and then just leaves its mouth open, as if in a disgusted scream.
The SpotMini takes the basic leg and body shape of the small quadruped Spot and adds a flexible neck and gripping mouth. Ostensibly, it’s designed to assist humans – the demo video puts it to work on household chores – but the disjointed movement and bird-like head stabilization remain distinctly unsettling.
The SpotMini robot weighs 65 pounds and runs on an electric motor. It's able to go about 90 minutes per charge, depending on the type of task it’s performing.
The head is equipped with a mouth that can manipulate objects, but many of the sensors aren’t in the head – instead, depth cameras, a solid state gyro and proprioception sensors are located in the limbs.
It’s capable of some level of autonomy, but needs human direction for tasks requiring “high-level guidance.” So far, it seems to sort dishes and trash pretty well.
Boston Dynamics began as a project out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992.
Although the group has performed as a wholly owned subsidiary of Google for three years, the tech giant is looking to divest itself of the robot-makers due to a lack of deliverable products, particularly in the military segment.
Toyota is currently the rumored front-runner in the race to purchase the robot-building think tank.