SpotMini From Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics recently broke the mould with its ATLAS robot but the company has just released a new funky, flexible and extremely well advanced model in the shape of SpotMini. You can see at a glance what this particular robot is capable of by checking out the quick video embedded in this post. Introduced on 23 June SpotMini is just as likely to cut a few shapes on the dancefloor as it is to offer you an arm wrestling competition!

SpotMini: Quiet but extremely flexible

This in-house robot weighs less than 70lbs, can work for about 90 minutes on a full charge and, perhaps more importantly, doesn’t rely on any hydraulic system in contrast to ATLAS. In fact, thanks to its electric build it is probably the quietest robot from the company.

As you can see from the video, SpotMini has an excellent recognition of its surroundings on a three dimensional level. This is thanks to its sensors and solid state gyro (IMU) which allows the robot to navigate through every day obstacles and even the challenge of a pet dog will not throw this ingenious robot offguard. While SpotMini does require human guidance for some of the more complicated and demanding tasks, it is perfectly capable of carrying out an array of basic chores without any assistance whatsoever.

A taste of big brother Spot

The SpotMini robot is a small version of big Spot, which in the words of Boston Dynamics’ “is a four-legged robot designed for indoor and outdoor operation, electrically powered and hydraulically actuated”. As you might expect big Spot is rather heavier at around 160 lbs and a little noisier. However, this is a technologically advanced robot which is capable of navigating uneven ground and can even support/carry a human being.

SpotMini's big brother, Spot from Boston Dynamics

SpotMini’s big brother, Spot

We have recently covered groundbreaking drones capable of dropping supplies in hard to reach areas with pinpoint accuracy. However, the ability to support/carry a human being makes Spot extremely versatile and useful in an array of different circumstances and environments. At this moment in time Boston Dynamics is not presenting any of its robotic technology for military use although some people do fear this will change in due course.

Versatile and flexible, Spot can do anything

This groundbreaking robot has opened an array of doors for Boston Dynamics as the company looks to incorporate robotic technology into everyday life. The robot itself could be used as a wheelchair and beat the challenges of steep and uneven surfaces with its flexible dynamic motion manipulation system. As we touched on above, the robot’s motion sensors and solid state gyro will ensure a smooth journey with particular focus upon the elderly and infirm. We can only imagine the feeling of independence given to the elderly and infirm as their dependence upon human assistance is reduced.

The fact that Spot (as well as SpotMini) can be trusted to work with the elderly and infirm as well as deal with fragile structures carefully and methodically should not be underestimated. The ability to assist with daily tasks such as helping patients/residents in and out of their bed or a useful support when using bathing facilities could be a game changer. Those with other ailments such as brittle bones or reduced control of their hands could also use the Spot robot to assist with additional everyday actions.

Boston Dynamics take a bow

The introduction of SpotMini as a precursor to the larger Spot robot could be a game changer in so many different situations. While many people tend to focus upon ethical areas such as military use let us not forget the everyday value of these machines. Can you imagine the improved level of independence Spot could give to the elderly and infirm, reducing their dependence upon third parties? Also, this new technology must surely help to improve the mental well-being of those forced to depend on third parties to carry out some of the more simple actions which we often take for granted.

Keep impressing us Boston Dynamics!

About: Khadija Ouajjani

Since 2012. Mechanical Design Engineer in the aeronautics industry. Mainly dealing with CAD, FEA, simulation and analysis for turbo-engines. Writing for EC since 2014. Garlic, Color Pencils, Open Systems, Coffee, Herbert, Final Fantasy VII, Writing, Tolkien, Mechanics, Deutsch, Nihongo, Herbs, Aïkido, Tea, Cinnamon, Motion, Friends.

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