SpotMini Robot Dog Gets Major Makeover

Boston Dynamics introduced a new version of its SpotMini robot dog. The new SpotMini has a whole new look, ditched the manipulator robot arm and added 3D vision cameras for obstacle avoidance.

Today we saw the first glimpse of Softbank’s influence on Boston Dynamics. Softbank acquired Boston Dynamics in June 2017 for an undisclosed sum, and it’s now helping Boston Dynamics make more aesthetically-pleasing robots.

Boston Dynamics today released a 24-second video teasing a new version of its SpotMini robot dog. And boy did the robot get a major makeover. The first thing you’ll notice is that SpotMini’s body is now covered in a plastic, yellow shell for a much friendlier look.

But the new SpotMini also ditched the manipulator robot arm that was on the top of its body. But SpotMini also has new 3D vision cameras on its side and back obstacle avoidance. It movements seem a lot smoother than before, too.

Check out this side-by-side comparison photo of the new SpotMini (left) and the old SpotMini first introduced in 2016.

SpotMini Comparison

And a side-by-side video comparison:

The video introducing SpotMini says the robot is “coming soon.” We’ve reached out to Boston Dynamics for comment, but they’re usually hush-hush when it comes to talking about their robots, so we’ll have to stay tuned.

It appears Softbank is pushing Boston Dynamics to commercialize its first robot, which has always been the question for Boston Dynamics. The company has always built incredible robots from an engineering standpoint - whether it be Atlas, BigDog, Handle - but what are the use cases?

At a conference in October 2017, Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert said, “I happen to believe that robotics will be bigger than the Internet.” Perhaps Softbank is pushing Boston Dynamics towards that goal - and a much friendlier looking robot.


About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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