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Robotics Technology

Boston Dynamics Introduces Their Newest Four-Legged Robot, 'Spot' 63

MicroHex writes: Boston Dynamics, creators of "Big Dog" recently unveiled their newest creation, "Spot." Originally funded by DARPA to develop the technology behind Big Dog, Boston Dynamics is currently owned by Google and continues its robotics research. From the video: "Spot is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation. It is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated. Spot has a sensor head that helps it navigate and negotiate rough terrain. Spot weighs about 160 lbs."

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Boston Dynamics Introduces Their Newest Four-Legged Robot, 'Spot'

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  • Design changes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX ( 665546 ) on Monday February 09, 2015 @10:18PM (#49022831)
    Interesting to see how they went with similar legs in the front that are on the back, as opposed to the reversed legs on Big Dog. Reminds me of how some animals have long feet, where the 'heel' ankle are more like a reversed knee, and the actual knee is almost concealed up against the body.

    I wonder if they're going to at some point combine the two with the leg designs, based on their efforts to date.
  • Wow, the stairs and the rough terrain!

    These things are getting scary good, and I can't believe I felt bad about the thing getting kicked!

    • Pretty cool, when are they going to cover it in tasers and flash-bang launchers and use it to charge hostiles?

      That'll teach anybody that tries to kick it a lesson!

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Monday February 09, 2015 @11:48PM (#49023133)

      No kidding. Quite a few years ago, I was part of a robotics club that competed in walking robotics contests, so I have a bit of appreciation for how amazing these machines actually are. They're making incredible progress with these devices. It's amazingly fun to see how "organically" the robots respond to a loss of balance or footing.

      It's a little sad that it's the military that has to fund these things, but I'm sure that civilians will eventually reap the benefits of this R&D. After all, the internet and GPS were both military-funded project as well.

      Note to self: erase footage of early robots getting kicked by humans before they achieve overlord status.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think what you mean to say is that they are making incredible strides.

        Thank you.

      • Boston Dynamics (makers of these robots) was aquired by Google, who have said they won't be doing any military contract work. These will probably be delivering your next Android phone, or driving your car for you. ;-)

        • Ah, yeah... after I posted that, I read the summary a bit more carefully and saw they were purchased by Google.

    • by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Wednesday February 11, 2015 @02:48AM (#49027089)

      I do notice they've got no videos of this robot going down stairs. That's _way_ harder than going up stairs.

    • But don't you just want to see it kick that robot abuser back?
  • by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Monday February 09, 2015 @10:21PM (#49022847) Homepage Journal

    Is it house trained, or am I going to find a pile of batteries in odd corners of my house?

  • I wonder what the range is on Spot. It is significantly quieter than big dog and watching it go up that slope much more agile. If that could go for a 3+ hours it would have a huge number of uses!

    The military options are there but civil rescue operations would benefit from these as well.

    • by GNious ( 953874 )

      Military options?

      Eff that, I want to see how the US police forces can mess things up with some robotic canines during a SWAT raid.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Forget dogs. I work in construction and want a friggin' dinosaur with an excavator and/or crane attached. Think about how awesome that would be, and very practical too because it could walk down into sensitive and hard to get to areas that tracks can't.

  • for extra creepy

  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday February 09, 2015 @11:20PM (#49023027)
    his robot, Spot!"
  • by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Monday February 09, 2015 @11:28PM (#49023065)
    because that's the thing that's going to finally make you realize that SWEET FIREBREATHING JESUS there's a giant whirring headless robot dog walking past the break room.
    • OSHA requirements for robots in the workplace

        6. Audible and Visible Warning Systems

      Audible and visible warning systems are not acceptable safeguarding methods but may be used to enhance the effectiveness of positive safeguards. The purposes of audible and visible signals need to be easily recognizable.
      https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaw... [osha.gov]

      • by dbc ( 135354 )

        The OSHA regs were probably written around the traditional industrial manipulators that have *no* sensors to detect collisions, have large mass, move verrrrry fast, and have high joint torque. They live in safety cages, and there are interlocks on the control panels for when a human needs to go into the cage.

        Bringing robots "out of the cage" is a topic of current research. It involves moving slower, reducing mass, lots of sensors to detect surroundings, and having backdrivable joints so that you can just

        • The problem with step 1 being "Did I hit a person?" is that step 2 could be "No? Then let me try again!".

          • by dbc ( 135354 )

            That's really the point of back-drivable joints. It's a guarantee that if you get into a shoving match with the robot, the robot loses. The arm on the Willow Garage PR2 is like that. You can push the arm out of the way and smack the big, red E-stop button.

  • Great, this will help with our endless wars.

  • Oh, there's a pile of rusty batteries on the carpet. Yep, that's robot doo alright!*

    * I totally stole that joke from a 1970s era Mad Magazine, the (original) Battlestar Galactica spoof.

  • Cool, Like how it could adjust itself when the guy kicked it. Despite it being a robot, it was cringe worthy, almost like a living being being hurt. Wonder why it is called "Spot" though.
    • I do not remember seeing the laser rangefinder on the 'head' of its predecessors

      Perhaps it is for 'spotting' its target

    • When going up the concrete stairs, the front left paw attempts to grip onto the higher step, then quickly opts for the lower step. a quite natural looking action.
  • Big Dog and the cheetah were definitely in uncanny valley territory, but this thing seems far less threatening or scary. It has a much more natural gate.
  • With the Daleks, you could just climb some stairs to get away but not with these things.
  • Ah ah, at 1:25 it seems like one of the robots wants to mate with the other one!
  • But is it allowed to break the speed of sound in urban areas?

  • It's plainly obvious when watching it climb stairs that it's just placing its feet down in a pattern, and when one misses a step or slips it moves forward a bit and tries again. What they need to get working on is placing each foot in a specific chosen spot. But that's a whole nother level of AI programming.

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller