Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dog gets a makeover; loses a head

Two weeks ago, Sony announced it was bringing its Aibo robotic dog back from the dead. That’s all very well and good, but the cutesy pup is not built with guard duty in mind. For that, perhaps Boston Dynamics can be of assistance. The former Google-owned company has been making some tweaks to SpotMini – its labrador-sized robot dog – specifically a fresh coat of paint, and a decapitation.

The 24-second teaser video above shows a robot dog that looks a bit like a bright yellow USB power bank with legs. That’s a big improvement on the metal exoskeleton of the previous release, although the missing head is troubling. To refresh your memory, the last time we saw SpotMini, it had an optional diplodocus-style head and neck add-on, with a gripper where the mouth should be. It was still the stuff of nightmares, but at least it was the stuff of zoomorphic nightmares. Plus, as the demo reel showed, it was ideal for delivering cans of Diet Coke – if you don’t mind a little light piercing.

Of course, it’s entirely possible that you can stick on a head as required. A bigger reveal is planned soon, so maybe we’ll find this is a truly modular dog after all. Say what you like about living, breathing labradors and huskies – they don’t give you much by way of mod support.

Boston Dynamics was, until earlier this year, a Google-owned business – which made the prospect of world domination feel a little close for comfort – especially when they were also developing robots that could take a pummeling with a baseball bat. Worried about commercial viability, Google eventually sold the business to Japanese company SoftBank, which by the looks of things is happy to carry on with these – ahem – pet projects.

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