by James Vincent: Boston Dynamics continues to get the most out if its AdSense dollars with a new YouTube video of its four-legged robot SpotMini…
This time, it’s dancing to a cover of “Uptown Funk,” complete with the best robotic rendition of the Running Man dance we’ve ever seen.
SpotMini performs fantastically, and it’s right to prepare for the spotlight. Next year, the bot will go on sale as Boston Dynamics’ first commercial product. It won’t be sold for a particular job, but the company’s founder, Marc Raibert, has said it could be used for a number of tasks, from inspection duties for heavy industries to security to research.
One thing Raibert stressed onstage at Wired’s recent conference was the limitations of these robots. Raibert noted that a recent video of its bipedal Atlas bot doing parkour took 20 attempts to get right. “In our videos we typically show the very best behavior,” said Raibert according to Wired. “It’s not the average behavior or the typical behavior. And we think of it as an aspirational target for what the robots do.”
These sorts of comments are welcome considering that there have been unhappy mutterings in the robotics community that Boston Dynamics is misleading the public. The company does not often explain its tech, and viewers tend to think that its robots are acting autonomously using advanced AI. However, as Raibert pointed out, they’re usually being piloted remotely or going through a series of carefully planned steps.
“Right now robot technology has advanced a lot, but it’s still not all the way where we’d like it to be. And so I think our job is to keep push the boundaries, but also find the best possible uses for the technology as we have it,” Raibert told Wired.
Maybe after SpotMini has finished dancing, it can deliver a lecture on exactly how it works.