According to The Verge, Boston Dynamics’ quadrupedal robot dog Spot is just about ready for the consumer market.
Marc Railbert, CEO of Boston Dynamics, told The Verge that he expects the solution to “be available within months,” before the end of the year.
These robots are being positioned as a “mobility platform” for the market, rather than a single-use tool, The Verge says. For example: “A Spot robot mounted with 3D cameras can map environments like construction sites, identifying hazards and work progress. When equipped with a robot arm, it has even greater flexibility, able to open doors and manipulate objects.”
While these dog-like robots, which have starred in numerous viral videos, are able to navigate environments autonomously, they can only do so if their route has been selected and programmed ahead of time. They also still need human handlers to fully function, and to fix any malfunctions.
Spot can also handle shoves, nudges, and other physical contact.
While Spot is an internet hit, easy to control, and offers potential help in many industries, the major challenge Boston Dynamics faces is finding an actual market for it. It seems that the solution’s greatest competitor is humans, The Verge says. “Will companies buy Spot robots for surveillance and surveying when humans will be invariably cheaper?”
Plus, other countries and companies are in the race to releasing their own dog-like robots, including Switzerland-based ANYbotics and China-based Unitree. As a result, it’s hard to tell if Spot is a solid enough competitor in the consumer market.
Finally, another challenge Boston Dynamics faces is keeping up with the anticipated demand; it’s struggling to scale up its production of Spot robots. Currently, it only has 50 bots in its inventory. Even still, Raibert says he has high hopes for Spot. “We’re manufacturing them at a reasonably high rate for an early product,” he told The Verge. “We’re aiming for 1,000 a year.”