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Boston Dynamics’ Housework-Ready Robot Looks More Like a Dinosaur Than a Butler

It might make butlers extinct, though.

Elon Musk may want to build a robot that’ll do your housework for you, but Boston Dynamics appears to be ahead of him on that front, at least on the physical side. They just posted a video of their new SpotMini robot that shows how it can use its Diplodocus-like neck for a variety of tasks—and also for being incredibly creepy as it demonstrates its ability to keep its head eerily still while its body moves around.

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It seems to work really well, though, and handles glassware with due care as well as dumping refuse into the trash. Of course, the real task of creating a housework robot isn’t necessarily in whether or not it can perform cleaning tasks. Robotics are pretty advanced already on what they can mechanically accomplish, but it’s the AI that would really sell a housework robot due to the autonomy it could provide, which is what Musk is after. Performing manual tasks is one thing, but making sure the robot doesn’t accidentally shrink anyone’s sweaters or create its own dish-based scavenger hunt while emptying the dishwasher is quite another.

Here’s the rundown on its specs and capabilities so far:

“SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot that weighs 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.”

Bonus: If the robot is a bit on the creepy side for you, skip to the end where it tries to get affectionate and then fails at everything for a reminder that we’re still a long way off from Skynet.

(via Gizmodo)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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