Boston Dynamics’ numerous robots can run, jump, yomp and now, it would appear, hold doors open for one another.
No amount of decorum, however, will spare the company’s latest machine from having to accept and respond to any disturbances that hinders its progress.
The robot in question is SpotMini, a small four-legged robot that was first introduced in June 2016 as a 30kg derivative of its larger sibling Spot, which itself evolved from the BigDog programme. Those of you unfamiliar with BigDog’s capabilities can recap via our 2009 feature BigDog – an infantryman’s best friend.
Boston Dynamics say SpotMini is their quietest robot to date and can operate for 90 minutes on a single charge, depending on what it has been asked to do.
The robot has an arm with five degrees of freedom, allowing it to pick up and handle objects and even open doors. The robot’s sensor suite – which helps with navigation and mobile manipulation – includes stereo cameras, depth cameras, an IMU, and position/force sensors in the limbs.
Packed with this equipment, SpotMini is so far able to go about its tasks but may occasionally face physically challenging scenarios that it’ll have to overcome. For this reason, the team at Boston Dynamics put their machines through physically challenging situations, as witnessed in February 2016 when Atlas was roughed up to verify its capabilities. The company states ‘this testing does not irritate or harm the robot’.