Meet Boston Dynamics’ streamlined SpotMini

3 min read

Boston Dynamics hasn’t talked much since it changed hands from Google’s ailing robotics wing to the deep pockets of SoftBank, but the cutting-edge robotics firm happily gave the world a sneak peek of what it’s been working on in the meantime. The company posted a 24-second teaser trailer showcasing a sleek new version of its latest offering, the electric-powered SpotMini.

We’ve reached out to the company for more information on the project, but BD always plays things pretty close to the vest. It also knows how to ride a good viral video for all it’s worth. Meantime, what we’ve got to work with here is a really quick video of the updated robot doing a familiar bit of dressage across a newly mowed lawn, quickly staring down the camera and then sauntering off behind a wall.

From that cursory glance, the underlying hardware appears mostly the same from the earlier iteration of the company’s first all-electric quadrupedal bot. The exterior, however, has been given a pretty dramatic makeover — making the new SpotMini far and away the most polished product out of the company yet. That could be keeping in line with SoftBank’s goal of commercializing its robotics, along the lines of what it’s done with Pepper — though, as adorable as the new Spot is, it’s probably not going to be greeting Wal-Mart shoppers anytime soon

The new ‘bot features a bumble bee-colored paint job with a plastic outer coating that make it look a bit like it’s wearing Uma Thurman’s Kill Bill jumpsuit. Spot’s quick glance at the camera also reveals what appear to be a pair of Kinect-style 3D cameras sitting in for its eyes. The company recently posted a listing for a “Senior Perception Software Engineer” with experience in stereo cameras and LIDAR, which could go a ways toward highlighting more autonomous versions of its robots moving forward.

The caption on the video isn’t much help either, unfortunately, simply asking viewers to “stay tuned.” So, stay tuned, I guess. 

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