New 'Beefier' Robot Dog Can ID, Track Humans

Spot got an upgrade.

By now, it’s clear we’ll all look back fondly on 2021 as being the year full of news reports that keep us up at night. So here’s another one.

You all remember Spot, the robot dog, right? The quadruped wasn’t so great for cuddles, but it was excellent at automating tasks that were challenging for humans, including dangerous ones like applications on oil rigs or with COVID patients. And Spot also offered the kind of unsettling creepiness that can only come with the accuracy of its mimicry of animal movements.

Well, there’s a new dog on the block that’s arguably more creepy… and we’re here to haunt your dreams with as much detail as possible.

CyberDog is an open-source robot developed by the Beijing electronics company Xiaomi . The device is being described as a “beefier version” of Spot, as evidenced by the robot’s boxier upper body and hulking stance. 

Xiaomi says CyberDog uses a small AI supercomputer produced by NVIDIA and is capable of assessing posture and human faces, allowing it to identify and track individuals. Great!

But this isn’t really the end game for the CyberDog. Xiaomi is hoping the device can be used as a baseline for developers to build out more robust applications. Instead of making them available to the public, the company is selling them to a targeted group of “engineers and robotics enthusiasts” to tinker with them and “lay a pathway for future innovations,” as reported by Engadget

Meanwhile, the Spot robot hasn’t exactly been sitting around barking at cars and eating dental chews. A technical innovation from the company Fugro has resulted in an enhanced accessory for Spot with an intense name for a sweet little dog: SCAR. The SCAR version of Spot was developed by French engineering students, and utilizes a 3D scanner and camera to assess areas that are not always accessible to humans. New sensors mean SCAR can improve its perception of its surroundings, making its surveying abilities even better than before.

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