A robotics company known for its widely shared videos of nimble, four-legged robots opening doors or walking through rough terrain is preparing to sell some after more than 25 years of research.
Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert said his company planned to begin selling the dog-like SpotMini robot next year, likely to businesses for use as a camera-equipped security guard.
But he said he thought other applications for the four-legged contraption would be likely developed by other companies, because the robot has a flat platform to allow other equipment with its own computer programming to be easily mounted on top of it.
SpotMini gets around with the help of cameras on its front, sides and one mounted on its rear — a position that Mr Raibert called the “butt-cam”.
Boston Dynamics has already made 10 SpotMinis with plans to manufacture about 100 more for additional testing this year before going into mass production by the middle of next year, Mr Raibert said.
No price has been set for the robot yet, though Mr Raibert said making the latest prototype cost about one-tenth the price of earlier versions.
Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics rarely reveals its plans except by posting YouTube videos that have both impressed and terrified people.
The news came as the company posted a video showing its two-legged Atlas robot running through a field, up slopes, and jumping over logs.
The robot has previously shown the capability of sorting and picking up packages, jumping up and off blocks and performing backflips.
But Mr Raibert said Boston Dynamics had not figured out how to make money from Atlas yet.
“This machine is really trying to push the boundary of the future,” he said.
He also mentioned the possibility of building robots to help with construction projects, though he did not provide any further details about that ambition.
Reaction on social media was similar to that of past videos — as one user said: “The robots of Boston Dynamics continue to get more and more impressive — and remind us that the robot uprising is an ever more realistic possibility…”