Science

Boston Dynamics Unveils SpotMini Robot

By Victor Thomson , Jun 27, 2016 05:00 AM EDT
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Alphabet's Boston Dynamics has announced SpotMini, a smaller version of its Spot pet robot. The 65-pound SpotMini is designed as a robot companion to work in a domestic environment.

According to Pulse Headlines, SpotMini can help the owner by throwing away trash, putting dishes into a dishwasher and other useful domestic tasks. Due to its reduced size, the robot can perform delicate movements and assess its surroundings.

A video released by Boston Dynamics is introducing the robotic companion's abilities and functions. The quadruped robot is shown being able to even stand up on its own after slipping on a banana peel.

I-Programmer reports that SpotMini is a very odd-looking device. It looks like a robot maid/butler crossed with an overgrown puppy. The four footed robotic pet has a robotic arm instead of a neck and head. The robotic arm is used to manipulate objects, carry and fetch them.

SpotMini is able to walk below tables and chairs, climb stairs and even coordinate with other robots to not collide with each other. The robot is all-electric with no hydraulics. Depending on what tasks it performs, SpotMini can run for around 90 minutes on a charge.

The smart gadget comes with a variety of sensors, including a solid state gyro (IMU), depth cameras and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors have the role to help with mobile manipulation and navigation.

Boston Dynamics states that SpotMini is one of the quietest robots it has ever built, as it has been developed for household use. The robot often uses a human for high-level guidance but can also perform some tasks autonomously.

The company Boston Dynamics is now part of Google Alphabet, after being acquired in 2013. Earlier this year, rumors emerged that its parent company Alphabet was looking for a buyer, perhaps due to the fact that bigger robots like Atlas were not likely to generate a revenue. The move to develop smaller robots such as SpotMini could be an attempt to have a mass market product, according to tech experts.  

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