Spot Is Boston Dynamics' New Robot "Dog"
Written by Lucy Black   
Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Boston Dynamics has built a smaller, lighter and quieter version of its Big Dog four-legged robot and it is impressively sure footed. Could this be the robot you let wander round your house?

Big Dog was designed to be a transport device for the military, moving loads over rough ground. It is, as its name suggests, big and powerful, having an internal combustion engine as its power source. This gives it a good range, but means that it is noisy, smelly and not really something you would want to invite inside. 

 

spotbigdog

 

However, the engine is used to drive a compressor for the hydraulic actuators and this means the power source is easy to change. This has already been done for Atlas, Boston Dynamics' humanoid robot, which is now powered by a battery pack. To make Big Dog run on less power, however, it seems that it has to be smaller - hence Spot. 

There are no technical details for Spot, apart from the fact it weighs 160 pounds, is electrically powered and hydraulically actuated, but it does seem to be a scaled down Big Dog and is probably running the same software. 

Take a look at how well it works in the video - and try not to be too upset by the number of times Spot gets kicked: 

 

The recovery on ice is particularly impressive - I'm not sure the human would have remained upright in a similar test.

spotkick

 

It makes four legs look very superior and the way it moves around the office and its ability to climb stairs suggest that it would be just as at home in the home as out in a rough terrain. Perhaps bipedal robots aren't the way to go for the time being. 

spotstair

 

Boston Dynamics was bought by Google in 2013 so you also need to consider the wider possibilities for the future of Spot.

if you want to know more about how Spot might work then make sure you read the paper listed below.

Finally, it is interesting that so many of the You Tube comments complain about the treatment of Spot by the humans. For once you kinda have to agree with them.

 

spot

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