One of Google’s robots is officially housebroken.
Boston Dynamics, the Google-owned robotics company, has released viral video for years. But the robots have almost always performed their feats outdoors or in a laboratory. In a new video released Thursday, June 23rd, Boston Dynamics presented SpotMini, which safely performed a variety of tasks around a home.
SpotMini walked under a dining room table, brought a man on a couch a drink, climbed stairs and loaded a glass into a dishwasher.
And unlike most Boston Dynamics robots, SpotMini is electric, rather than relying on hydraulics, which makes it suited for the home.
“You wouldn’t want to drip hydraulic oil on your carpet,” said Jerry Pratt, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition.
The timing and nature of the video is notable given a March report from Bloomberg that Google had put Boston Dynamics up for sale, as it is not expected to deliver a marketable product in the next few years.
“This video is saying, ‘Look we can do these things, it’s not hard,'” said Georgia Tech engineering professor Aaron D. Ames, who researches robotics. “It’s really a demonstration of the transferability of fundamental ideas, which is sometimes hard for the public and CEOs and executives to grasp.”
In other words, scientific advances made in the lab can be applied to the real world — and actually be useful.
Ames thinks it would be a huge mistake for Google to sell Boston Dynamics. Both Ames and Pratt believe that housebots, or robots that handle everyday household chores, are closer than is generally thought.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.
“There’s huge potential and upside,” Ames said. “Given the right brain, this is the kind of thing that could end up in the home in the not too distant future.”