Boston Dynamics is about to launch its first ever commercial product — a quadrupedal robot named Spot. The Verge reports: Spot is currently being tested in a number of “proof-of-concept” environments, Boston Dynamics’ CEO Marc Raibert told The Verge, including package delivery and surveying work. And although there’s no firm launch date for the commercial version of Spot, it should be available within months, said Raibert, and certainly before the end of the year. “We’re just doing some final tweaks to the design,” said the CEO. “We’ve been testing them relentlessly.”
Rather than selling the robot as a single-use tool, it’s positioning it as a “mobility platform” that can be customized by users to complete a range of tasks. A Spot robot mounted with 3D cameras can map environments like construction sites, identifying hazards and work progress. When equipped with a robot arm, it has even greater flexibility, able to open doors and manipulate objects. At Re:MARS, a Spot with a robot arm used it to pick up items, including a cuddly toy that was then offered to a flesh-and-blood police dog. The dog was unimpressed with the robot, but happy, at least, to receive the toy. Raibert says it’s this “athletic intelligence” that Boston Dynamics will be selling through its robots. Think of it like Amazon’s AWS business, but instead of offering computing power on tap, its robotic mobility. How much will Spot cost? Raibert only said that the commercial version will be “much less expensive than prototypes [and] we think they’ll be less expensive than other peoples’ quadrupeds.”
He did, however, reveal that the company had already found some paying customers, including construction companies in Japan who are testing Spot as a way to oversee the progress of work on sites.