Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, “Spot,” has been in the news ever since the robotics company debuted its ancestor, BigDog, a decade ago. Over the last ten years, we’ve seen Spot evolve from prototype into polished product, and now it’s finally time to see how the mechanical quadruped performs out in the real world. And what better way to do that than by having legendary myth-buster Adam Savage put the robo-pup through its paces?
Savage and the rest of the Tested YouTube channel crew recently announced they’ll be testing Spot over the next year, with an initial video (above) showing the team unboxing the robot dog and having it perform some initial tasks including walking, climbing, and crawling; feats, incidentally, that would make most other four-legged droids quake in their metallic foot cups.
Spot was handed over to Savage and company as a part of Boston Dynamics’ plan to turn the “quadruped robotic platform” into a “flexible tool for robotic developers.” According to a recent Boston Dynamics blog post, the company initiated its Spot Early Adopter Program in September of 2019, and, since then, has had customers from all over the globe build custom applications for Spot. In regards to Savage and Spot, the company specifically wants the former to test the latter in order to develop “a variety of entertaining applications.”
Adam Savage’s Tested
In the video, Savage takes Spot to one of the training grounds for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department (located in Alameda, CA), where many of the classic Mythbusters experiments took place. After guiding Spot down a ramp between an SUV and the ground, Savage proceeds to have it traverse a small, rocky hill, make its way through a tunnel, crawl beneath a series of wooden bars, and walk up and down stairs. Spot handles most of the hurdles with the kind of nonchalance you’d expect from a gadget that inspired Black Mirror‘s frightening “Metalhead” episode, although it does require human assistance at a few points. Spot’s also apparently always guided via a remote control—which looks like a blend of a Nintendo Switch controller and an Xbox controller—which makes it seem like less of an IRL nightmare.
Today, we open-sourced our Spot software development kit and announced our first-ever user conference Actuate! Learn more about what users like @donttrythis and @testedcom are doing with Spot’s SDK on our blog: https://t.co/GEc66PGyCx
— Boston Dynamics (@BostonDynamics) January 23, 2020
It’s unclear what kind of “entertaining applications” Savage will help Boston Dynamics develop for Spot, but odds are they won’t be anything to worry about. Unlike the potential collaborations between Boston Dynamics and law enforcement—the nascent stages of which we’ve seen take shape with the Massachusetts Bomb Squad. Despite that somewhat frightening caveat, however, it seems like there’s limitless potential for what Spot can do. And seeing it walk side by side with its new, temporary owner is indeed endearing enough for us to agree with Savage’s sentiment that this is “the start of a beautiful relationship” between a man and his robot dog.
What do you think about Adam Savage putting Spot through its paces for the next year? Do you have any ideas as to what kind of entertainment applications Savage will come up with for the robotic quadruped? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
Header Image: Adam Savage’s Tested