SpotMini robot is like a dog that cleans your dishes

27 Jun 2016

Google might be tired of its antics, but renowned robotics firm Boston Dynamics has released its latest creation to the world, and it could actually be of use in the home.

Called SpotMini – being a smaller version of the previously released Spot robot – this creation marks Boston Dynamics’ return to four-legged creations after debuting its powerful bipedal Atlas bot last February.

This time, however, the company is apparently not just developing a smaller robot as a display of technological progress, but aiming at bringing SpotMini – and other similar robots – to our homes in the near future.

Giraffe-like head

SpotMini is Boston Dynamics’ lightest robot yet weighing 30kg at its heaviest and just 25kg ‘dripping wet’ which is a considerable difference from the 82kg weight of the updated Atlas bot.

This, the company said, is down to the fact that all of the hydraulics have been taken out of SpotMini to make way for an entirely electric build, which not only makes it lighter, but significantly quieter, too.

What’s also noticeable this time around is the frankly bizarre giraffe-like head, which is the focal point for a lot of SpotMini’s capabilities including loading a dishwasher and dealing with rubbish.

Can withstand banana-peel abuse

In the video posted to the Boston Dynamics YouTube page, SpotMini is shown to have an incredibly stable head – thanks to the solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in its limbs – which lets it interact carefully with everyday objects.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Boston Dynamics test video without the robot being subjected to some form of abuse which, in this case, involves forcing it to slip on a number of banana peels in a hilarious fashion. Using its head, however, SpotMini can quickly recover to carry on doing chores around the house.

This current iteration of SpotMini is unlikely to be of much use in the home as of yet, given that a full charge will only allow it to run for around 90 minutes depending on how strenuous the tasks are, but here’s hoping that this is the beginning of a series of non-terrifying robots for the home.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic