back to article Every dog has its day – and this one belongs to Boston Dynamic's four-legged good boy Spot

Shambling military-grade mechanical monstrosity maker Boston Dynamics has officially launched its dog-like robot, Spot. The company's most famous creation was a giant pack-carrying quadruped called BiGDog. It was designed with help from the US Marines and DARPA, and could carry 180kg, but despite dozens of well-shared internet …

  1. Cab

    90 minutes at 3mph. It's not exactly a wide ranging beast is it? I bet that 90 minutes isn't flat out fully loaded either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      90 minutes at 3mph

      real-life: see small print. UP to 90 min at UP TO 3mph over a zero incline and no-obstacle, straight line course.

      Still, impressive.

    2. Persona Bronze badge

      I like those specs. They show that one of them couldn't hunt me down.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Even if it could run at 60 mph as long as you could get over a waist high fence before it reached you you'd be safe.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          For now.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6b4ZZQkcNEo

    3. Matthew Smith

      That already outperforms my labrador.

  2. phuzz Silver badge
    Terminator

    Useful?

    So from that advert, as far as I can tell the single useful thing it can do, is to carry a single breezeblock. As far as I could tell, it couldn't load or unload itself either.

    I suppose you could make it take your real dog for a walk? And I suppose with the robot arm attachment and some image processing you might even get it to pick up your dog's shit as well. Unless it just walks through it and them tramples the shit through your house of course.

    As with all "Robots/AI are coming to take your jobs!!!11!!1" articles, we have to ask: wouldn't it be easier to employ a teenager for minimum wage?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Useful?

      IP54 is not particularly weatherproof, my phone is IP68 and will take pics under water, this dog is not going to do well in a thunderstorm, is slow and underpowered.

      What happened to the one with a two stroke engine? More power and much scarier.

      At least this dog doesn't stop to pee on everything, and probably doesn't sniff crotches.

      Apparently it can be leased for less than the price of a car, whatever that means.

      Anyone leased a Bugatti Veyron lately?

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Useful?

        IP*8 is waterproof, IP*2 means it is safe to use in rain falling at no more than 15 degree angle. Seems fit for purpose to me, since one wouldn't normally carry out scheduled inspections when it's pissing down in a howling gale.

        The first digit, in the case the 5 in IP52, refers to object / dust ingress. 5 means that whilst dust might enter it, the dust won't bugger it up.

        Still, it seems to be largely a development platform at this stage; organisations might buy a couple of this gen to play with and code for.

        1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

          Re: Still, it seems to be largely a development platform at this stage

          Exactly. Lots of comments about "doesn't seem very useful/capable now, does it?" These overlook the fact that most if not all of today's useful tech started out significantly less capable/useful than they are today: automobiles, airplanes, PCs, wireless phones, satellites, etc. This is an early iteration that will almost certainly continue to be developed into ever more useful and capable versions. Given that the current iteration can probably* pour and deliver a cold pint, I'd say it's already fairly useful.

          *already has the grippy arm and other grippy arm robots can pour beer so, in theory, SPOT can have that code added.

          1. Muscleguy Silver badge

            Re: Still, it seems to be largely a development platform at this stage

            Is pouring a beer properly beyond your skill set? or are you really so lazy?

    2. mamsey

      Re: Useful?

      I doubt whether a teenager would work for 90 minutes on minimum wage!

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: Useful?

      As with all "Robots/AI are coming to take your jobs!!!11!!1" articles, we have to ask: wouldn't it be easier to employ a teenager for minimum wage?

      Funny thing. An apparently leading explanation for the long-standing crap UK productivity stats is that thanks to the "reformed", "flexible" labour market - gig economy, zero hours etc , it's easier for firms to substitute expensive R&D and capital investment (new, more productive machinery) by just hiring more Fleshy Ones. Result: crappy, ineffecient, unreliable, inaccurate, slow old tooling operated by armies of ragged, poverty-striken employees. Sounds far-fetched? Take a look around you, dear reader...

  3. Steve K Silver badge
    Joke

    Every dog has its day...

    ...and a dog without a tail has its weak end

  4. iron Silver badge
    FAIL

    Their product page for Spot recommends it for inspecting Oil & Gas plants and similar industrial facilities. These facilities run 24/7, at 90 minutes per battery that's 16 times per day that the battery needs to be changed!

    1. Blergh

      But is there a spot for that? i.e. have another spot for changing spot batteries.

      I've no idea who changes the second spot's batteries though and I suppose hope the battery is less than 14kg

    2. Khaptain Silver badge

      That's the sales gimmick that you didn't see.... You need to buy a whole army of these things in order to keep logistics running correctly..

      One dog to bite.

      One dog to change the battery of the dog that bites.

      One dog to insert extra batteries into charger.

      One dog to store and retrieve batteries from battery shelf.

      One untitled dog to piss everyone off ( wink goes out to everyone's favourite goose).

      Anyway you get the idea.

      I hate Boston Dynamics, they are just so damned good at what they do, it must be fun being on their team.... certainly more fun than working in my industry.....

      1. corbpm

        Now Veridian Dynamics that was a company - see YouTube for commercials

    3. Niarbeht

      The facility might run 24/7, but that doesn't mean you need to grab sample for the lab from the ULSD product line sixteen times a day.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Not everything needs inspecting daily. Indeed, the things that need continuous monitoring will have fixed cameras pointed at them, or redundant sensors.

      So, if we can accept there exist things that require inspecting at intervals of between a week and a year...

  5. mr-slappy

    Who's a good boy? Who's a good boy then?

    I, for one, welcome our new roboticanine overlords

  6. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    "...function in temperatures between -20˚C and 45˚C"

    So kind of worthless during modern European summer weather?

  7. Khaptain Silver badge

    14 Kg

    The average AR15 is only around 3kg, so that leaves about 11kg for munition and some kind of belt feed system....

    That would make a nasty challenge in many situations such as ............... ( I'll let everyone fill in their favourite usage so as not to offend the feint of heart or PC Madness Collegians)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 14 Kg

      yeah it's 0.5 KG per 30 round clip, so 28 extra clips of freedom...

    2. Wellyboot Silver badge

      Re: 14 Kg

      That would be a Minimi and its 200 round box plus a spare barrel for the handler to swap over.

    3. baud Bronze badge

      Re: 14 Kg

      But is it stable enough to handle the recoil?

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: 14 Kg

        A standard AR15 uses a .223, the recoil is minimal. If this thing can carry 14kg it can stand the recoil from an AR15,..

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

          Re: 14 Kg

          And if the AR15 is forward-firing, then the robo-dogs quadraped design would absorb the recoil pretty well.

          And if you can get it away from the sharks, there is always he head-mounted laser option. No recoil at all!

          1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

            Re: 14 Kg

            robo-dogs quadraped...

            That sounds bloody scary.

    4. Loatesy

      Re: 14 Kg

      COLONIAL MARINES ROBOT SENTRY YAAAYYYYYY!!!!!

      (Lets go on a bug hunt . . . .)

  8. WonkoTheSane Silver badge
    Terminator

    Adam Savage's new foster pet

    I understand from Adam Savage's twitter that he's got one of these for his Tested.com youtube channel for the next year.

  9. JDX Gold badge

    I had initially thought this was a robo-toy but it seems aimed slightly above that. I wonder how much it costs?

    As others have said, the specs don't seem that great. When you consider they have robots that can sprint, dance and jump, why is this limited to a slow walk?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I don't know. Immediate guess would be legal concerns - it's quite hard to hurt someone at 3 mph.

      For that matter, it's less likely to damage itself at 3 mph. Who here, after buying one, would trust their engineers not to 'test' its sprinting and somersaulting abilities to the limit?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no head

    no petting, no bone throwing or fetching, no ear scratching. That said... no jaws to clamp on that meatbag bone to let them know the battery's almost gone...

    1. SminkyBazzA

      Re: no head

      Pretty sure that the attachable arm (holding the door open in the video) has a manipulator on the end. Pretty jaw-like, especially as it looks more like a velociraptor 'face' than a tool.

  11. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    Delivery dog

    It's going to have to run a lot faster than 3mph if Bargain Booze try using it to deliver a case if wine in my neck of the woods lol.

  12. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

    Use case?

    Remote "hands" for a data centre, perhaps? Always onsite, good enough to press a reset button or show image from cameras.

  13. I Am Spartacus

    El Reg needs one

    Remember the robot for getting drinks when the PFY was too damn lazy?

    Well, here is the answer.

    Mine the one with "I, Robot" in the pocket.

  14. SteveCo

    Who will be the first to dress it in a shaggy coat and take it for a walk? Will it stop at kerbs though?

    Serious question - guide dog potential?

    1. Steve K Silver badge

      Goodies

      I was thinking of a remake of the Goodies "Dougal" episode?

    2. Muscleguy Silver badge

      AI is nowhere near being as good as the brain of a labrador. Also the blind person has to be able to trust the guide and it has to be adaptable and capable of recognising unusual threats. The auto driving AI's fall down at that point and they have more sensors and heavier computers than spot could usefully have.

      The companionship of a dog is also a major factor as well as the need to exercise it, and yourself. Guide dogs get blind people out. A spot with it's limited battery would do the opposite.

      And finally 90min is pushing it, unless it can lie down and save power in the cafe.

      Fun fact: labradoodles were originally developed to be hypo-allergenic guide dogs (they shed in a limited fashion) but the hyperactivity and ADHD of the breed kyboshed that idea.

      They train the guide dogs around here, they are part of the normal furniture so much we all assume the person with the guide dog can see. I know labradoodles as well and, no, just no.

  15. Dave 126 Silver badge

    What, no Ray Bradbury reference yet from you lot? For shame...

  16. Gene Cash Silver badge

    DUCK!!

    I want one of these to chase the annoying ducks that clutter my yard in packs of up to a dozen. That would be an absolute blast.

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: DUCK!!

      After a while the ducks would work out it was no threat and would perch on it and imagine the mess that would produce on your spot. Get a dog.

  17. Tom Paine Silver badge

    IP54

    IP54 isn't all that. OK for DiY, but the video shows it on a (extremely hazardous!) US building site.

    https://www.rainfordsolutions.com/ip-enclosure-ratings-and-standards

  18. theOtherJT

    Alternatively...

    ...you could get an actual dog. While their carrying capacity might be _slightly_ lower, a large dog with an appropriate pack could certainly manage 10 kilos, and they run for way longer than 90 minutes between charges and at much more than 3mph. I suspect they're significantly cheaper too, and if you get two dogs you can even produce new ones in house.

    1. sofaspud

      Re: Alternatively...

      While true, you're forgetting the waste disposal requirements that come along with Live Dogs. A single Live Dog with the 10kg carrying capacity frame will produce significant waste product on a daily basis, and requires ready access to both H2O and other organic compounds as fuel.

      RoboDog, on the other hand, just plugs into your outlet, and produces no waste requiring disposal.

      We do not recommend plugging a Live Dog into your electrical outlet. You will void the warranty at the very least.

  19. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I would have been more impressed if the video showed it stepping through the tyres, instead of up a clear path behind the tyres.

    Still, the suggested use cases - hostile environment monitoring /hazardous recon does sound reasonable, though you would want to do a cost/benefit analysis against just using a graduate engineer.

    Still early days, and plenty of progress to be made, but the the more these things are used, the more advances will be made.

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