Boston Dynamics is still owned by Google/Alphabet as of today (as far as we know), and that means that the company’s latest developments are still relevant here at 9to5Google. That’s probably going to change soon, but for now, the latest creepy and unnerving robots that the company shows off in its videos are still attributable to the Mountain View company. The latest is a miniature version of its Spot robot with the addition of a giraffe-like neck. Yep, it’s not getting any less creepy…
SpotMini seems a lot like Spot — it’s just, well, mini. The beginning of the video shows what is apparently a “standard” SpotMini, but Boston Dynamics then goes on to show what seems to be the same robot with a long neck and head with googley eyes. The video below shows the robot doing the dishes, running and tripping on a banana peel, climbing stairs, and of course trotting around a parking lot. I would recommend checking out the video for the banana peel slip alone.
SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot, weighing 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
All this comes as a report from Tech Insider last month said that Google is nearing a deal with Toyota to sell its Boston Dynamics robotics division to the car maker. And that report followed another report from couple months before that suggesting that Alphabet was planning to sell the division due to lack of a ‘marketable product’ in the next few years.
Alphabet’s sale of Boston Dynamics has been in the works for quite a while, and last month’s report corroborated one from Bloomberg in March which said that Amazon and the Toyota Research Institute were both being considered as possible buyers. A price for the deal has not yet surfaced, but the ink was “nearly dry” last month — so things are probably pretty close to becoming official.