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June 15th, 2019 at 1:18 pm

Boston Dynamics’ first consumer product might be a battle bot

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Boston Dynamics’ faintly terrifying quadruped dog robot—SpotMini—was first announced in 2016 and is expected to go on sale later this year. The robot has a whole lot of whizzy sensors and cameras, spindly mechanical legs, a creepy grabber arm that opens doors, and mind-bogglingly impressive robotics technology. (It’s expected to carry a five-digit price tag—a fitting sum to bring the uncanny valley direct to your home.)

But it’s never been very clear what, exactly, the point of Spot is—especially as a consumer product.

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Speaking in Las Vegas at Amazon’s inaugural public Re:MARS conference on robotics, machine learning, automation and space this evening, Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert gave an audience of engineers, astronauts, and Robert Downey Jr. a key clue: entertainment. In the future, multiple players might fight Spots against each other, he said, as a “network game with physical actors.” In a video shown to the audience, four of the robots were shown tussling over a blue ball in an orange enclosure, before tumbling to the ground.

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Mind you, it probably shouldn’t feature in this year’s letter to Santa. The technology is still in the early stages, Raibert explained, with next year a more likely possibility. (Two Spots brought out as a demo for audiences were kept far away from one another, with one ultimately crumpling to the floor after being paraded across the stage.)

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Given Boston Dynamics’ researchers’ rich history of abusing their creations, robotics-powered dogfighting perhaps shouldn’t come as any surprise. Fingers crossed our robot overlords find it as entertaining as Raibert does.

Via Quartz.com

 

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