Boston Dynamics chief executive officer Marc Raibert on Friday said that his company plans to begin selling the dog-like SpotMini robot next year.
SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that fits in an office or home. It weighs 25 kg (30 kg if you include the arm). SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing.
The robot inherits all of the mobility of its bigger brother, Spot, while adding the ability to pick up and handle objects using its 5 degree-of-freedom arm and beefed up perception sensors. The sensor suite includes stereo cameras, depth cameras, an IMU, and position/force sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
Raibert said at the conference that the company designed SpotMini "by thinking about what could go in an office - in a space more accessible for business applications - and then, the home eventually."
The robot can also navigate spaces autonomously. Once a human operator manually drives the robot around a particular area, the bot can create its own "map" and figure out how to walk over the same location on its own.
Raibert said that the company is developing various applications for the bot, including a "surveillance package" involving "special cameras" that can be mounted on the robot. He also expects other applications for the four-legged contraption to be developed by other companies, because the robot has a flat platform to allow other equipment with its own computer programming to be easily mounted on top of it.
Boston Dynamics has made 10 SpotMinis with plans to manufacture about 100 more for additional testing this year, before going into mass production by the middle of next year.
Raibert said that the latest prototype costs about one-10th of the price of earlier versions to make.