Last week Boston Dynamics released a video about a robot dog called Spot, which has gone viral.
Boston Dynamics, a robotics company acquired by Google in 2013, last made the news in 2008 with its ‘BigDog’ robot. BigDog was a quadrupedal, dog-like robot with a remarkable sense of balance and stability. The company has now developed a new dog, Spot, which a smaller, lighter version of BigDog.
Both BigDog and Spot work on similar principles. They have four independent, hydraulically actuated legs that give the machines the dexterity of a dog or horse. They have sensors embedded within the body which give them a remarkable degree of capabilities. They can run, trot, and climb; march in formation and even identify their owners. The sensors also give the robots corrective balancing abilities. It was this demonstration in a video that drew out a massive reaction.
The video shows the robot running and climbing, and even going for a walk with BigDog. To demonstrate Spot’s balance, a Boston Dynamics employee gives the machine a stern push-kick. There is sufficient force in the kick to topple a table, but Spot shows it can take a hit, quickly regaining its composure to continue walking. However, this kicking of the robot has angered some internet users who called the kick unethical, likening it to kicking an actual, living dog.
Spot is again shown in the video, running outside, where unfortunately it is again kicked. It still doesn’t go down but it has a harder time taking the hit while just standing up on the pavement.
Spot then continues to explore outside, easily making work of inclines whether it’s going up or down. Even a rougher patch, with rocks and small branches or some stairs, doesn’t give it any trouble. Going up side by side with BigDog, Spot is nimbler, which is probably due to its reduced weight.
The engineers at the Boston Dynamics have added that Spot can be used for search and rescue operations. In fact, it can help as well as lead rescuers inside calamity areas.
You can watch the video of Spot at http://youtu.be/M8YjvHYbZ9w