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Boston Dynamics Teaches Its Robot Dog New Tricks

Boston Dynamics has slowly been bringing Spot the robot dog with its extendable arm out into the world. For example last year, the NYPD released a video where they were training Spot and its new arm to be part of the team — the robot and its arm proved useful in opening doors and being used in instances where officers would be at risk.

Boston Dynamics Teaches Its Robot Dog New Tricks

Now, it looks like Spot can dig holes for plants, pick up laundry, open and shut valves and light switches, sketch on the ground using chalk, opens doors, and much more — all thanks to its robotic arm.

The extendable arm mounts at the front of Spot's frame and swirls extends, retracts, picks up and drops down, on command. The arm has a large pincer-like "mouth" at the end of it, used for clasping on to objects as needed.

"Since first launching Spot, we have worked closely with our customers to identify how the robot could best support their mission-critical applications," said Robert Playter, Boston Dynamics CEO, in a press release. "Our customers want reliable data collection in remote, hazardous, and dynamic worksites. We developed new Spot products with these needs in mind."

It may look a little reminiscent of a small robotic dinosaur with a long and awkward neck, but it's still impressive. The part near the end of the video that was especially magnificent was when two Spot robots held and swirled a rope while a third jumped over it in a jump rope game. That's some great control.

Do You Know?

The company was founded in 1992 by Marc Raibert, a former researcher at MIT. Boston Dynamics originally focused on developing human simulation software used to train law enforcement. But Raibert had done extensive research on robotic mobility at MIT and Carnegie Mellon, leading the company to expand to producing robotic machines eventually. Spot is not Boston Dynamics’ first animal-like design. The company has also built BigDog, a 3-foot long, canine-like creature; WildCat can run at speeds of 29 miles per hour; and the six-foot humanoid robot Atlas.

Boston Dynamics' video comes just a day ahead of its official launch of an expanded Spot line, which took place on February 2.

Boston Dynamics has been developing and promoting Spot for years, but only brought the robot to market this past June. The robotic dogs are available to US businesses for $74,500 apiece, and the company estimates there are now more than 400 Spot models in the world.

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