Whatever you do, don’t mess with Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot

Boston Dynamics’ latest SpotMini update the four-legged robot to open doors. (Boston Dynamics)

When the robot uprising begins anywhere, it goes in Boston Dynamics’ workshop in Waltham, Massachusetts. And looking for the latest video from the team, it may have already begun.

It shows SpotMini, a dog-like robot shown for the first time in 2016 and improved with a new design in November last year. Earlier this month, Boston Dynamics unveiled version 3, with an extendable arm for the first time with the original SpotMini but removed for the second iteration. The arm up from the top of the fuselage and is agile enough to open doors, an opportunity to look cute to what is already very disturbing for people with dark thoughts about where this all leads.

A new video posted on Tuesday shows how this impressive four-legged robot is concerned with what Boston Dynamics describes as ” distortions.” A disturbance could be something like a scared man with Elon Musk’s flamethrower to take on SpotMini, but in this specific case it is a calm engineer prodding it with a stick.

In the video we see SpotMini again, try to open a door. Despite the engineer’s efforts to stop it, the icy dog-bone remains very much focused on the grasp of the handle.

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There is a bizarre moment where the man suddenly pulls a line from her ass, a feature that seems to be a sort of kill switch, but if it is, it doesn’t work very well. For whatever reason, the guy drops the line and the robot effortlessly open the door to enter the neighboring office (if any) wreak havoc. The video will disappear before we heard screaming.

Boston Dynamics has some details about SpotMini, preferring instead to scare the bejeezus out of anxious types by the publication of a series of short videos instead.

But this week, the clip is a little insight into the last robot effort. SpotMini, you will be glad to learn, is not fully autonomous (yet), if the video had an off-camera man with a remote control to guide the robot to the door. However, when it is reached, SpotMini flips in autonomous mode.

“A camera in hand to find the latch of the door, cameras on the body to determine whether the door is open or closed, and help navigate through the doorway,” the team explains in a message to accompany the video. “Controllers provide for the propulsion, balance, and adjust behaviour if progress is off track. The ability to tolerate and respond to failures, as this enhances the successful operation of the robot.”

The message ends with: “This test is not irritating or harmful to the robot.” We are not sure if you have this as an animal welfare quip, or as an ominous reference to SpotMini the remarkable abilities.

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