By Matthew Stock
A dog-like robot named Spot, seen dancing in a viral video, can now not only bring your slippers, it can pick up dirty laundry, open doors and even plant flowers.
U.S. robotics company Boston Dynamics on Tuesday unveiled a new version of four-legged Spot with an arm and the ability to charge itself, allowing it to work around the clock.
Spot went on sale last June, starting at $74,500. Now over 400 robots are working around the world, including on a factory floor at Ford Motor Corp and helping with oil rig inspection for BP Plc.
The new arm with a gripper at the end was top of the wish list for many clients, said Michael Perry, vice president of business development for Boston Dynamics.
“The moment that it can sense the world and interact with it based on what it’s sensing, that starts opening up a wide variety of new applications for Spot,” Perry told Reuters, while conceding the dexterity of Spot’s gripper is “several degrees away from the fine motor skills we would expect from a human hand.”
Spot’s arm was teased in a video showing Spot dancing alongside other Boston Dynamics robots to the song “Do You Love Me?”. The YouTube video has nearly 28 million views since its release on Dec. 29. (bit.ly/3awg4Uo)
Hyundai Motor Group recently agreed to buy a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics from SoftBank Group Corp in a deal that values the robot maker at $1.1 billion.
Perry believes the public will soon embrace robots as tools to make life easier.
“Five years from now when Spot is doing a last 100-metre food delivery, they’re not going to be thinking, ‘oh, that’s a scary robot’. They’re going to be thinking, why didn’t my burrito get here faster? We’re hoping that that day comes pretty soon.”