Boston Dynamics Spot hands-on: new dog, new tricks


– Hi, I’m Russell and this is Spot. (happy music) So you’ve probably seen this robot before, maybe hauling a truck or dancing to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.” ♪ And my band ’bout that money ♪ ♪ Break it down ♪ ♪ Girls hit your hallelujah ♪ It’s the first of this generation of semi-autonomous, four-legged robots. And it does a lot more than just
make videos for the internet. For about a month now, Boston Dynamics has been
putting Spot to work, leasing units out to industry partners, and seeing how this kind of robot
holds up in the real world. (happy mellow music) When you’re standing next to Spot, the striking thing is how
small and sturdy it is. It’s just under three feet
high and weighs 70 pounds, which means it’s light enough for a single person to pick up. A lot of the movements you’re seeing here are remote controlled by an operator. But Spot has a handful of basic skills it can do automatically. It knows how to climb
stairs, how to avoid walls, and even knows how to dance a little. (funky music) (heavy breathing) Spot’s not tired at all. Of course, we’ve seen
walking robots before, but few of them had
Spot’s sense of balance. Accelerometers tell Spot if it’s moving, and torque sensors in the joints tell it exactly how its
weight is distributed. If Spot feels itself tipping forward, a protocol kicks in, telling
it to find surer foot. It also has cameras on all four sides, so it can see where to plant its foot. Spot still can’t tell the difference between firm ground and loose dirt, which means navigating these dirt piles got a little chaotic. When it does fall, there’s a
protocol for righting itself, which works most of the time. Although, it did need human assistance when we flipped it into the bottom of a particularly steep ditch. The simplest way to use
Spot is this controller, which uses the same layout as an Xbox. The left joystick moves
Spot forward and back, or strafes left and right, while the right joystick spins it around. You can also use the camera
view to see what Spot is seeing, and send it to specific waypoints. Tap a spot on the screen, and Spot will find a way to get there. The controls are really easy to learn, mostly because there isn’t
that much to control, so much of it’s automatic. Within a couple of minutes, I was able to send Spot wherever I wanted, although it does stop at walls because of the object sensor. At the same time, I didn’t get the tight connection that you do with video games or RC cars. You can tell it’s more
designed for automation than human pilots. Boston Dynamics is hoping
that a lot of the time, Spot won’t need a driver at all. For more complicated tasks, you can chain waypoints together, sending Spot to retrace a path it walked through earlier
with human assistance. That could mean checking
all the gauges on an oil rig, or taking LIDAR scans of a room from a dozen specific points. This version of Spot mostly
knows how to navigate spaces, but the plan is for it to
carry more sophisticated tools on its back, like a zoomable camera or the claw it uses to open doors. Industry partners can also
build their own modules for more specialized jobs. Attach a methane detector module, and Spot can check a whole
facility for gas leaks. Attach a LIDAR rig, and Spot can make a 3D map of a whole building from the inside. It’s a completely new
way for computer programs to interact with the physical
world, automating tasks that would otherwise be impossible to
do without a human being. There’s also just
straight-up entertainment. It’s really fun to
watch this kind of robot do these precise movements, particularly if you have
10 or 15 of them in unison. It’s not hard to imagine 50 Spots dancing Pikachu-style in a theme park. Right now, Boston Dynamics
has about 60 beta units. That’s the yellow guy you’re seeing here, but they’ve already started
building the next generation, which is what they’re loaning out. Eventually, they’re hoping
to have a thousand of them, but right now there’s only
about 20 being leased out. Now, Boston Dynamics wouldn’t say exactly what those bots are doing, since most of the partnerships
are still confidential. They also didn’t tell us exactly
how much the robots cost, since technically Spot isn’t for sale. All they’ve told us is that the leases were in the range of what you’d pay to lease a
car, which doesn’t say much. One thing we have to talk about, and there’s really no other
word for it, is the creepiness. Some people get really
freaked out by Spot. It moves with a precision that we don’t see in the natural world. And it stops dead still
whenever it doesn’t have a task, which can be unsettling. When you watch these videos, there are all sorts of
comments about how these robots are going to rise up and destroy humanity. There was even a Black
Mirror episode about it. But I didn’t get that sense in person. Really Spot doesn’t
recognize people at all. For the robot, you’re just an obstacle that’s too big to step on. At the same time, Boston Dynamics is really
concerned about any situation where Spot might end up harming a person. Even if it’s just
getting your hand pinched by one of the joints. They also said that
they didn’t want to sell to any clients who would
use Spot to harm people, or build weapons modules
or anything like that, which was good to hear. Spot’s great at climbing
through piles of dirt, but it doesn’t have the social skills to navigate big crowds. And Boston Dynamics has
a lot of work to do before it can build those skills. But that does mean that for now, you’re probably not
going to see Spot anywhere with lots of people around. The company’s thinking
about construction sites, oil rigs, maybe a few movie sets, but those are all pretty
tightly controlled spaces. For now, Spot’s really just a platform. A stable base where partners
can build new modules and new software skills. Once people start
building on that platform, Spot’s going to get smarter fast, and we may start seeing robots
in places we never expected. (robotic sounds)

100 Replies to “Boston Dynamics Spot hands-on: new dog, new tricks”

  1. With the new leasing program, there are a lot more of these robots in the world. How would you feel about seeing Spot in real life?

  2. So its applications at the moment are basically like those radio controlled cars that they send to dangerous places to measure stuff but more expensive and with legs

    Climbing stairs and opening doors is a big plus tho

  3. This dude really just said “it just sees you as an object that’s too big to step on” as if that was meant to make us feel better 😂

  4. I'm sorry but when I see a robot dancing like that, I only think of it doing a victory dance over my dead body. Am I the only one?

  5. Mount a sentry gun on top of it for military purpose . next thing u know it can shoot my by itself .then someone accidentally created a virus where ai can control it and we all dead

  6. So billions of Gov aid and 25 years and this is what is it's most demanded need or use? Lol hmm pay a illagal $400 a week or spend a million for spot?
    Joke but not for most construction company's only large ultra wealthy compacts are going to jump on this

  7. Such amazing tech, I find the lease similar to a car actually cheap-sounding I'd expect this cutting edge technology to be priced into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also nice that they don't sell to companies that will use weapons on them, but would/could they really say no to a 20 or 50 million dollar deal with the US army? Within a couple of years there will be another company with similar tech that will sell to an army.

  8. People are more worried about weaponizing it , becoming self aware is still a long way down the road, but sending 100 thousand of these with machine guns to invade countries or police the streets doesn't seem far fetched any more….I mean look at armed drones, it was science fiction 20 years ago.

  9. I really want one not just for personal use but it might be good at making videogame maps of real places Wich is something I always wanted to try

  10. So…Boston Dynamics doesn’t want to sell Spot to someone who might use them to harm people, but most of their partnerships are still confidential… 🤔

  11. "For spot you are just an obstacle to big to step on…"

    Well i guess its jost going to shoot me first.

    But for real guys. I think if it goes in the right direction Boston Dynamics might bring a revolution to the world simillar to invention of steam powered machinery. I wish the best for the people behind it

  12. Ha ha….Spot is so much fun. See how much fun and lighthearted a company Boston Dynamics is. It’s so much fun to watch Spot. Spot isn’t threatening at all. No way. A semi autonomous robot that can navigate questionable terrain and be mounted with god knows what and sent into areas where humans don’t or won’t have to go. I see no problems with that. Spot is just a silly fun loving 4 legged robot. He’s so cool. Hey look he can dance to Bruno Mars. See. He’s not threatening at all. Just don’t imagine a squad of Spots entering your home in the middle of the night with fully automatic machine guns mounted on their back cause of course that’s not what Spot is for. No….Spot is just a silly robot. No way this could ever be used for anything sinister.

  13. Robot overlord 1: I think this box too big to step on is asking for mercy.
    Robot overlord 2: I don't recognize it at all.

  14. I still remember how Justin Hammer jumped in very quickly in to help the MIC after Tony Stark said he didn't want to pimp out is tech for weaponry anymore.

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