Boston Dynamics has been putting its robotic dog to work delivering packages in Boston as it part of a mission to find commercial uses for the machine.
Called Spot, the four-legged version of Boston Dynamics‘ automaton can jump, run, climb stairs, get back up if it falls, and perform human tasks such as house work. It can also now deliver packages strapped to its back, the company said.
“We’ve been taking our robot to employees’ homes to see whether we could get in the various access ways,” said Marc Raibert, founder and chief executive of Boston Dynamics. “We’re doing very well, about 70 per cent of the way.”
It isn’t the first delivery robot to have made its way to people’s front doors. In the UK, Just Eat last year signed a deal with Starship Technologies to use its autonomous courier to deliver food across London.
The sight of Boston Dynamics’ robot approaching your door to deliver a package is somewhat more terrifying than the UK’s equivalent delivery robot. But looks could give the latter the edge over Starship’s attempt, allaying fears of theft and interception.
The Starship pavement droid, which was created by two former co-founders of Skype in Estonia, looks and moves a bit like a lumbering beetle. Even Boston Dynamics’ founder Raibert, meanwhile, has described its robots as “nightmare inducing”.
Other uses for the robots Boston Dynamics has been testing include working on a production line in a factory. It has trained its military-style, bi-pedal machine Atlas to put boxes on a conveyor belt. At the moment it can conduct the task at two-thirds of a human worker’s average speed, according to the company.
Boston Dynamics will be hoping to prove that its advanced robots can be put to commercial use. Google put the company up for sale last year amid concerns that it wouldn’t be able to create a marketable product within the next few years. A buyer is yet to be found for the robotics company, which sold to Google in 2013 for an undisclosed amount.