The robot uprising is right on schedule as a new report by Inverse suggests that Boston Dynamics’ terrifying robot dogs will launch into series production by the second half of 2019, producing more than 1,000 of its compact SpotMini models annually.
SpotMini is Boston Dynamics’ quadrupedal robotic dog. If you have watched the dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror episode “Metalhead,” where a knife-wielding robotic dog runs around killing people, then the company’s latest creation should be frightening for all of humanity.
“Metalhead” is the fifth episode of the fourth series of anthology series Black Mirror. (Source: YouTube)
It measures two feet, nine inches tall and weighs “66 pounds,” with approximately 1.5 hours of battery life. Boston Dynamics recently released videos showing the robotic dog performing all kinds of functionalities like opening doors and increasingly complicated navigational capabilities.
While the company previously announced plans to mass produce SpotMini in 2019 with a limited run already in pre-production, Inverse’s report reveals new details about the production and how the robotic dog is intended to become a multi-use platform:
“Boston Dynamics has plans to take its robotic helpers mainstream next year: By July 2019, it will be on pace to produce 1,000 SpotMini robots annually.”
“The overarching goal for the 26-year-old company is to become the what Android operating system is for phones: a versatile foundation for limitless applications. That’s the plan, anyway.”
…”Speaking last month at the CeBIT computer expo in Hannover, Germany, Marc Raibert [founder], said Boston Dynamics is already testing SpotMini with potential clients in four categories: construction, delivery, security, and home assistance.”
“We’ve built ten by hand, we’re building 100 with manufacturers at the end of this year, and at the end of 2019, we’re going to begin production at the rate of about 1,000 a year,” Raibert said of SpotMini, a prototype of which sat on the CeBIT stage near his feet.
Marc Raibert reveals new information about SpotMini’s production schedule at CeBIT computer expo Hannover, Germany, last month. (Source: YouTube)
The broader goal, as reported by Inverse, is to produce a flexible platform for a variety of applications. According to Raibert, SpotMini is currently being tested for use in construction, delivery, security, and home assistance applications.
SpotMini delivers a package to the home of a Boston Dynamics employee in a demonstration of what it might soon happen all the time. (Source: Inverse)
“Of the four areas where SpotMini could become a player, delivery seems to be the one where it has the most competition. Drone delivery efforts — Amazon’s Prime Air Service among them — would use large quad-copters to deliver packages, but they still faces regulatory hurdles (though some are hopeful they’ll be delivering soon. A walking delivery drone wouldn’t have to deal with no-fly zones or line-of-sight stipulations like quadcopters,” said Inverse.
Videos like this one received a lot of attention, but critics of Boston Dynamics said when it was put up for sale by Google that the bots were more style that substance. (Source: Inverse)
Although Boston Dynamics would preferably deliver these robots to the military, it seems as the company could become a household name by the mid-2020s. Why? Well, the company is expecting to explore various rollout options for the senior care industry, as the demographic time bomb of baby boomers is set to explode across the United States in the next decade.
At a Softbank expo in Tokyo in 2017, Raibert showed off a model equipped with a camera.
Inverse also theorized that the SpotMini could find use in senior care, which tends to be so expensive that robots could be cost-effective:
“In Japan, the elderly are preparing for robots to care for them, and face a predicted “shortfall of 370,000 caregivers by 2025,” reports The Guardian.
Because Spot Mini is just under three feet tall, it’s objectively less-scary and might even appear cute if it were to take care of your aging grandmother — fetching drinks and medicine and opening doors for her.”
With mass production of SpotMini just around the corner, it seems as the company could provide a cost-effective option in dealing with the demographic timebomb in developed countries. The company can also disrupt other industries such as construction, delivery, and security. Nevertheless, the Black Mirror episode titled “Metalhead” provides a dystopian prediction of how these robots could eventually start killing humans.