Boston Dynamics trains its SpotMini robot dog to fend off a human attack

You may have seen Boston Dynamics’ robot dog opening a door for its pal last week but a new video shows SpotMini battling with a human who’s trying to stop it in its tracks. 

The unsettling video shows the canine cyborg walking up to door before a man armed with a hockey stock tries to block its path and prevent it from opening the door before dragging it away by the ‘tail’.

Undeterred, the metal hound makes a second more successful attempt at opening the door before strutting through it, this time without any shenanigans from its human nemesis.

According to Boston, SpotMini is initially driven up to the door by an unseen human who also points the robot’s hand at the door handle. But from that moment on, the tenacious robodog is acting autonomously, which is both technically impressive and quite disturbing.

During the ‘robustness’ test, the robot uses a camera in its hand to find the door handle, while cameras on its body determine whether the door is open and enable it to navigate through the doorway.

“Software provides locomotion, balance and adjusts behaviour when progress gets off track,” says Boston in a characteristically short and vague statement posted alongside the video. “The ability to tolerate and respond automatically to disturbances like these improves successful operation of the robot”.  

The firm also notes that: “This testing does not irritate or harm the robot”. However, the robot pooch may disagree, having lost a small chunk of its chassis when it was yanked away from the door by that pesky human.

In last week’s video, one SpotMini robot looks troubled upon reaching the firmly closed door before its robot dog buddy turns up to open the door and hold it open long enough for both of them to pass through.  

We first saw the latest version of Boston’s SpotMini in November when it turned up sporting a new coat of bright yellow paint and no head.

A video of the earliest SpotMini showcased its original skills, including climbing stairs and righting itself after falling over.

While last week’s video of the SpotMini helping its robo pal though the door was somewhat endearing, the latest instalment of it shrugging off a human attack is rather more terrifying.

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