Boston Dynamics has wowed the world with its range of robots over the last couple of years—and the firm even released a choreographed dance featuring all of the robots in the family at the end of 2020. Spot, the dog-like, dancing robot, is actually commercially available for a steep price of USD 75,000 (~RM303k), and the robotics firm is looking to improve its functionality by offering an arm add-on, along with a self-charging dock.
So, what can the mechanical arm accessory do for Spot? Well, the arm isn’t actually new, having been spotted in a couple of Spot videos from the early days. However, Boston Dynamics released Spot to the public without the accessory at first—which didn’t really make sense, given how… useful an arm would seem to be.
In any case, the arm isn’t actually available right now, with the firm promising a release sometime during early 2022. As Tech Crunch reports, the mechanical arm has six degrees of movement, and it will work in tandem with the robot’s intuitive UI. According to Boston Dynamics:
“Like the base robot, there’s much more to the arm than just hardware. It will ship with an intuitive UI, and be equipped to operate through both telemanipulation and supervised autonomous behaviors via the tablet.”
Like the rest of the robot, developers will have the option to explore the arm’s capabilities via an API, with automated applications like opening doors and picking up objects included as beta features.
Meanwhile, a self-charging dock will also be made available as part of an enterprise-centric package. This means that Spot will be able to autonomously return to the charging dock when it needs to be recharged—which will certainly come in handy in certain situations where humans aren’t around.
In any case, these developments should come as good news to those who are planning to order Spot for themselves. In Boston Dynamics’ demonstration, Spot is seen to be opening doors, picking up waste from the ground, operating levers, and a pair of the robots are also shown holding two ends of a skipping rope—while a third Spot robot skips over the rope, of course.
It ends with Spot writing Boston Dynamics on the ground, and the firm explains:
“Now that Spot has an arm in addition to legs and cameras, it can do mobile manipulation. It finds and picks up objects (trash), tidies up the living room, opens doors, operates switches and valves, tends the garden, and generally has fun. Motion of the hand, arm and body are automatically coordinated to simplify manipulation tasks and expand the arm’s workspace, making its reach essentially unbounded. The behaviour shown here was programmed using a new API for mobile manipulation that supports autonomy and user applications, as well as a tablet that lets users do remote operations.”
So, what do you think? Let us know in the comments section below.