There are some more conventional upgrades, too. Like Sony’s considerably cheaper but less-capable Aibo robot dog, a new version of Spot called Enterprise Spot will ship with a dock and self-charging capabilities, meaning that when it determines its battery is too low to complete a task, it will autonomously return to its home base and plunk down on the dock to recharge itself without any human intervention. For applications that involve repetitive routine inspections and data collection, Enterprise Spot will potentially require very little day-to-day human interaction. Another, more pessimistic way of looking at it is that Enterprise Spot could potentially put another human out of work.


Enterprise Spot also includes upgrades to its hardware for better safety and communications with both improved wifi and communication ports, which will allow it to transfer large amounts of collected data faster than the original Spot is able to. The current model, Spot Explorer, is operated using a wireless controller built around a touchscreen tablet remote, but Enterprise Spot will also give users access to Boston Dynamics’ web-based Scout software to allow multiple bots to be monitored and controlled from a single “virtual control room.” This simplified interface can be used to activate pre-programmed routines and missions the robot will execute autonomously, while still allowing manual control when the robot needs to be repositioned for safety or to make observations that are otherwise obscured without the bot realizing it.

For decades, most practical robots have been relegated to factories building cars or grabbing parts off assembly lines. With its new arm, Spot is the first robot that looks like it could finally start delivering on science fiction’s promise of robots capable of performing domestic tasks, too. Suddenly that $74,500 price tag doesn’t sound so bad.