Boston Dynamics chief executive Marc Raibert speaks about his four-legged robot SpotMini during a SoftBank World presentation at a hotel in Tokyo. The robotics company known for its widely shared YouTube videos of nimble, legged robots opening doors or walking through rough terrain is finally preparing to sell some of them after years of research. Raibert said his company will begin selling the dog-like SpotMini robot next year, likely to businesses for use as a camera-equipped security guard. He made the announcement at a TechCrunch robotics conference at University of California, Berkeley. Photo: Shizuo Kambayashi/AP
A robotics company known for its widely shared videos of nimble, legged robots opening doors or walking through rough terrain is preparing to sell some after more than a quarter century of research.
Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert said last week that his company plans to begin selling the dog-like SpotMini robot next year, likely to businesses for use as a camera-equipped security guard.
But he thinks other applications for the four-legged contraption will be likely developed by other companies, because the robot has a flat platform to allow other equipment with its own computer programming to be easily mounted on top of it.
SpotMini gets around with the help of cameras on its front, sides and one mounted on its rear — a position that Raibert calls the “butt-cam”.
Boston Dynamics already has made ten SpotMinis with plans to manufacture about 100 more for additional testing this year before going into mass production by the middle of next year, Raibert said. No price has been set for the robot yet, though Raibert said making the latest prototype costs about one-tenth the price of earlier versions.
Raibert unveiled the SpotMini plans at the University of California, Berkeley, during a TechCrunch conference focused on the rise of robotics and its potential to perform a wide range of tasks and jobs now handled by humans.
Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics rarely reveals its plans except by posting YouTube videos that have impressed and terrified people. Most of Boston Dynamics’ robotics research had been applied in the military until Google bought the Waltham, Massachusetts, company in 2013. Japanese tech giant SoftBank bought Boston Dynamics from Google last year.
Although Boston Dynamics never released a commercial robot under Google, Raibert credited his company’s former owner for helping it to start thinking of ways to bring its technology to a broader market.