For years, Boston Dynamics’ only commercial product has been vaguely unsettling videos of robots moving in realistic ways. That changes today. No, the robots aren’t getting less creepy. Boston Dynamics has a real commercial product: Spot. This quadrupedal robot is shipping out to select companies, but it could expand to general sales eventually.
We’ve seen Spot (originally known as SpotMini) show up in various video demonstrations. You’ve seen it twerk, and now you might see it work. Boston Dynamics isn’t entirely certain what sort of work Spot will do, but that’s why it’s starting with a limited sales program. It wants to work closely with early adopters to evaluate Spot’s usefulness in the real world.
As part of the launch, Boston Dynamics has posted a video (below) demonstrating the robot’s features. Spot can walk at 3 miles per hour and has an average runtime of 90 minutes. When the battery runs dry, operators can swap in a new battery to get the robot up and running again immediately. It can even operate outside in temperatures ranging from -4 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 to 45 degrees Celsius). It’s IP54 rated, so it can walk around in the rain, but don’t steer Spot into a lake.
Like all of Boston Dynamics’ robots, Spot has impressive situational awareness. It can avoid collisions, navigate uneven terrain, and even get up if it falls over. The optional articulating arm lets Spot manipulate objects like doors, and there are two payload ports that allow it to carry almost 31 pounds (14 kilograms) of gear. The cameras and sensors it uses to avoid obstacles can also create 3D maps of its environment.
Boston Dynamics says operators can learn how to control Spot using its gaming-style controller almost immediately. There’s also a high-level API and SDK for companies to build custom applications for controlling Spot. The company expects to see Spot applications focusing on construction, delivery, security, and home assistance.
If you’re interested in buying a Spot robot, you’ll have to fill out a form on Boston Dynamics’ website and wait for someone to contact you. There’s no posted price, but IEEE Spectrum believes the price per unit is in the neighborhood of a luxury car. A business looking to automate more tasks might be able to drop the cash on a few Spots, but you probably won’t get one to keep around the house.