Today Boston Dynamics posted a video of its robot SpotMini quadruped extending an arm out of its head to turn a handle. With the dexterity of a tray carrying butler, it uses its foot to prop the door open, then elbows it all the way open for its SpotMini friend to walk through the door. It’s an incredible feat. But its also an interesting turn in the quest to make robots that get along with a world built by and for humans.
At the moment, humanoids are great at two things: look like humans and falling on their faces, as the Robotics Challenge showed this so well. A Robot walking on two is a massive challenge; that’s why chip, an imprecisely humanoid machine that rolled out threads instead of bumbling on two legs, did so well.
This is why SpotMini has such promise. Robots should be integrally well-equipped to explore environments built for humans, what with all the stairs and such. SpotMini is having a leg up from other robots because four legs are better than two. It is also energy efficient if you don’t have to constantly balance your machine to not fall on its face.
Plus SpotMini is having five limbs, The latest version of SpotMini marries the stability of a tetrapod with the skill of a human. It’s a hybrid robot that shows the awesome power of robotics: Human engineers are inventing an incredible collection of new species because they’re not certain by the rules of nature, just physics.