A new chapter in robotics: the SpotMini is a 30 kg (60 lbs) powerhouse.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on April 18, 2019

Could this be our new four-legged friend? An amazing new video from engineering firm Boston Dynamics shows ten of its SpotMini robot dogs pulling a bulky delivery truck down a street.

The footage highlights the power of the small-framed robot, which can run for up to 90 minutes.

The robot dogs incorporate high-tech cameras and perception sensors

The SpotMini robot dogs are equipped with LIDAR and stereo vision. These tools are used along with on-board sensors to maintain balance across uneven terrain. The robot can carry a payload of 23 kg (50 lbs).

Just 85 cm in height, the SpotMini is about the size of a large dog such as a Great Dane.

Boston Dynamics says the robot has the same mobility as the larger Spot model, its ‘brother’. It can also pick up and manipulate objects using perception sensors and a mechanical arm with 5 degrees freedom of movement.

The company also notes it is the quietest robot it has ever made.

Robots could soon become a common sight in the workplace and around the home

Last year, Boston Dynamics Co-Founder Marc Raibert said the plan was to have the robot dogs commercially available in 2019. He suggested the robots could initially be used in construction, for example to survey areas that were dangerous or otherwise inaccessible. They also hope the robots are soon a fixture in more domestic settings.

Formerly a subsidiary of Google, Boston Dynamics is now under the umbrella of Masoyoshi Son’s Softbank Group. One of its other models, Atlas, caught the attention of Elon Musk. “In a few years, that bot will move so fast you’ll need a strobe light to see it,” he tweeted.

He was right to predict the Atlas would continue to evolve quickly; last year a video of it jogging up a grassy slope and jumping a log in its way was watched more than 8.9 million times.

The new SpotMini release comes just a couple of months after Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Mechanical Engineering introduced its latest ‘mini-cheetah’ robot.

That light but powerful robot could walk, run, ‘pronk’, kick out its legs and even regain its equilibrium after copping an unkind foot to the body.

Header image credit: Boston Dynamics