After debuting just shy of two years ago, Boston Dynamics has finally made its Spot robotic dog available for sale, but don’t expect to find a great Black Friday deal on this bot at Best Buy come Thanksgiving. The company hasn’t made them available to the average consumer just yet—only businesses that can promise an interesting application for the technology.
To date, Boston Dynamics has mostly focused on robotics research, creating some of the most advanced and capable robots around, including the humanoid ATLAS which the company showed off performing some nimble parkour moves today, alongside the Spot announcement.
In 2013, Boston Dynamics was purchased by Alphabet (Google), and was later sold to the Japanese Telecom Softbank in mid-2017. Given the immense costs of developing and building these robots, it comes as little surprise that Boston Dynamics current owner is very much interested in generating a revenue stream from these creations. Spot might not be as advanced as ATLAS is, but in videos it appears far more refined and polished, and it offers a lot of genuinely useful functionality you don’t see in other four-legged robots currently on the market, including Sony’s reborn AIBO.
Using 360-degree cameras and sensors Spot can autonomously navigate through various levels of uneven terrain, including stairs, at a top speed of around three miles per hour, and can self-right if it does lose its footing and fall. It can run for up to 90 minutes on its rechargeable battery which are swappable, but that will certainly be reduced if the robot is supporting its max payload of around 30 pounds—be it additional sensors, scientific equipment, or just cargo. Spot also boasts an IP54 rating against dust and water. That rating is good, but does mean it is not completely protected from water and debris finding its way inside. In other words, don’t toss your Spot in the pool.
Interested buyers can head on over to the Boston Dynamics website and fill out an order form where they can plead their case as to why they should be eligible to receive one of the thousand or so Spot robots the company claims it can build every year. But don’t be too devastated if you’re not approved, while Boston Dynamics hasn’t revealed how much each Spot costs, it’s rumored to cost as much as a pricey luxury car. But can your fancy BMW fetch your slippers when you’re cold? Obviously not.