Boston Dynamics, one of the leaders in commercial robot design, have unveiled their latest invention: the SpotMini. This robot is one of their smallest and most agile robots yet, and is designed to navigate and work in tight household environments.
The SpotMini is modeled after dogs (hence the name Spot) and has a fully articulated arm that extends off its back. The arm is sensitive enough to handle glassware, as shown in the video when Spot takes a glass from the sink and puts it in the dishwasher. The other marvel of its arm is the solid state gyro, which allows the end of the arm to stay almost perfectly still while the body moves in all manner of directions.
Boston Dynamics described SpotMini as follows:
SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot, weighing 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.
The viability of household robots like Spot will undoubtedly lie in their ability to work autonomously. The more Spot can do on its own, without the need for human control via remote, the more useful it will be to the general public. That said, even without a great deal of autonomy, the sheer mechanical ability of Spot would likely make it a huge help for people with physical disabilities who have difficulty performing daily household tasks.
SpotMini is not commercially available, but it represents the incredible improvements Boston Dynamics is making, as this robot seems their most practical one yet. If our future robot overlords look like and are as useful as Spot, then by all means, bring it on. Watch the entire debut video below, which is worth it entirely for a moment involving a banana peel.