Boston Dynamics’ robotic ‘dog’ Spot is now being sold to businesses for the first time – but it will cost them nearly $75,000 a piece

  • ‘Spot’ the robotic dog is now available commercially for the first time
  • It will cost $74,500 and can be purchased through Boston Dynamics’ website
  • The bot is being positioned for uses in safety and for data collection
  • Makers say Spot must be deployed for ‘beneficial use’ of humans

After years of development, Boston Dynamics’ four-legged robot ‘dog’ will be sold to companies for the first time ever.

‘Spot’, as the bot is called, will retail for $74,500 and comes with some restrictions as to when and where it can be deployed.  

Specifically, Boston Dynamics says all of its sales will be subject to terms and conditions that dictate the ‘beneficial use’ of its robots. 

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The company sees ‘Spot’ applying most directly to ‘commercial and industrial use’ and in particular, to bolster safety in jobs where humans could be harmed.

‘The combination of Spot’s sophisticated software and high performance mechanical design enables the robot to augment difficult or dangerous human work,’ aid Marc Raibert, chairman and founder of Boston Dynamics in a statement.

‘Now you can use Spot to increase human safety in environments and tasks where traditional automation hasn’t been successful.’ 

As exemplified by recent uses in Singapore where Spot was being used to monitor pedestrians’ adherence to social distancing, the bot can be equipped with various sensors to augment or change its capabilities. 

The ability to actually purchase Spot marks the next phase since Boston Dynamics began leasing the bot last year.

In that pilot, Boston Dynamics says that 150 Spot robots were used by domestic and businesses and research facilities to ‘document construction progress, monitor remote or hazardous environments, and provide situational awareness.’

The Norwegian oil company Aker BP ASA announced it will begin using Boston Dynamics’ robotic watchdog on Spot (pictured above) to help monitor equipment on its ships in the Norwegian Sea earlier this year

As noted by The Verge, Boston Dynamics has taken a stance against some use cases.

Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, Michael Perry told The Verge that the company will not support uses of Spot that ‘harm or intimidate” people which includes banning the attachment of weapons.

As with any piece of technology, however, there is no guarantee that the Spot won’t be used for purposes outside of Boston Dynamics’ intentions once purchased.

Spot has already raised some onlookers’ concerns for being deployed by police.

Last year documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, confirmed Spot has been involved in multiple police ‘incidents’ though the full details of those cases is not yet clear. 

WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT MINI ROBO-DOG?

Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.

The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.

The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.

‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.

It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.

SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’ 

SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house. 

In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.

There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.

It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up. 

‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.

‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. 

‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. 

‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’ 

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