Anyone in the US can now buy Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot for $74,500

17 Jun 2020

Still from ‘With you, Spot can’. Image: Boston Dynamics/YouTube

After years of viral video demonstrations, Boston Dynamics is now selling its four-legged Spot robot to anyone with enough money.

Boston Dynamics has had quite a turbulent company history since its foundation in 1992. It was acquired by Google in 2013, before being sold to Japan’s SoftBank Group in 2017. Now, the company is starting to put its robot creations on the market.

Its latest creation is Spot, the dog-like robot that is able to climb stairs and traverse rough terrain. Rather than being designed for lifting heavy objects, Spot’s main function is to use its camera array to create 3D maps of buildings, monitor areas hazardous for humans and even to assist in hospitals.

Spot was previously only available for short-term lease through the company’s early adopter programme. More than 150 of the machines were used in a variety of environments including power generation facilities, decommissioned nuclear sites, factory floors, construction sites and research laboratories. Spot was also used to explore projects for creative industries, such as dancing on stage and performing in theme parks.

Boston Dynamics said that it is now available for commercial and industrial sale in the US, once businesses can meet the $74,500 asking price for the Explorer model.

Different type of buyers

Add-ons can also be included. Lidar will add an extra $18,450 to the price tag, and a specialised inspection camera will cost $29,750.

“At Boston Dynamics, we have spent decades creating and refining robots with advanced mobility, dexterity and intelligence because we believe agile robots can solve a broad range of real-world problems,” said Marc Raibert, chair and founder of Boston Dynamics.

“The combination of Spot’s sophisticated software and high-performance mechanical design enables the robot to augment difficult or dangerous human work. Now you can use Spot to increase human safety in environments and tasks where traditional automation hasn’t been successful.”

Speaking to The Verge, the company’s vice-president of business development, Michael Perry, said that the type of people or groups looking to buy Spot can vary.

“Some of the customers we’re speaking to are in the ‘shut up and take my money’ mode,” he said. “But others say, ‘I’m interested in Spot, but I want to come to your lab and drive a robot or for you to come visit me.’”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic