Robot builder Boston Dynamics amazes yet again with tricks by its robots. This time it’s the four-legged SpotMini who is able to open a door for its pal.
Boston Dynamics has amazed us for several years in a row with the tricks its robots do. One video that is almost pitiful to watch has Atlas the robot being bullied and pushed over by its supervisor using a broom, yet still managing to get back onto its own two feet.
Then a year later we saw a new version of Atlas, who was now performing somersaults like an accomplished gymnast.
Boston Dynamics has been working for some time on a mini version of its BigDog, the company's very first project back in 2005 under commission from the US army's DARPA research programme. The intention was that the robot would act as a beast of burden for the military. With its four legs, it was able to penetrate the most difficult terrain while bearing a heavy load. It did manage that, but the BigDog was not put to use as it made too much noise.
In 2016, the first version of SpotMini – the lightest and most silent version of the Boston Dynamics robots – was introduced. This robot can operate for some 90 minutes on its own battery. There is now a modified version that can perform a special trick. At the request of its pal – also a SpotMini – it comes along, opens a door with a special arm and then also goes through the door.
Opening a door is blindingly simple for humans, but this is definitely not the case for robots. That was once again demonstrated in the robot competition that DARPA organised three years ago. Opening a door was one of the tasks designed to demonstrate how good the robot is.
Obviously the video will only have been published by Boston Dynamics after exhaustive practice, fine-tuning and repetition, so the robots’ actions will be less spontaneous than they appear at first glance. Yet the robots have indeed proven that they can overcome these obstacles.
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