Atlas the Gymnast, Spot the Quadruped
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Saturday, 28 September 2019

It's been quiet at Boston Dynamics for too long. Atlas breaks the silence as Spot becomes available to buy. Don't miss seeing what Atlas can now do - it could be scary.

After a while you get used to laughing at robots falling over. Eventually you get the message that four legs are good and two leg are, well, difficult. So while Spot, the quadruped, goes on sale for general use, Atlas is showing off his moves:

All I can say is "remarkable", but there is the usual lack of info from Boston Dynamics. We don't even know if the video is speeded up, but by the look of the physics I'd say not.

This is the only clue provided:

"We created the maneuvers using new techniques that streamline the development process. First, an optimization algorithm transforms high-level descriptions of each maneuver into dynamically-feasible reference motions. Then Atlas tracks the motions using a model predictive controller that smoothly blends from one maneuver to the next."

 It is claimed that this is faster than previous methods of designing maneuvers, but we don't get a clue as to how long it took. There is also a note that the designs only have an 80% success rate and there is no blooper section of the video. How long before Atlas is actually useful?

Spot on the other hand is stable without even trying much and you can now buy one if you have a use and can convince Boston Dynamics that you would be a suitable owner. No I'm serious. At the moment Spots are in short supply and you have to apply, explaining your use case before you are even told what the price might be. All Boston Dynamics will say is that Spot costs less than the price of a car - which is a very wide range. 

I don't really think that the initial cost of a Spot is the issue. As delivered it almost certainly won't do anything very useful, apart from entertain its operator. To get anything really useful you need to work with its SDK and develop something and this is going to be the expensive part.


More Information

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 28 September 2019 )