Boston Dynamics to start selling its headless robotic SpotMini in 2019

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Starting in 2019, Boston Dynamics will begin selling its headless robotic SpotMini, according to Marc Raibert, the company’s founder.

During a robotics conference in California, Raibert said that SpotMini is currently in pre-production, and is scheduled for large-scale production and general availability “from middle of 2019.”

Weighing approximately 66 pounds, the SpotMini is capable of operating up to 90 minutes between charges, but it can also be driven semi-autonomously. Using its series of cameras, it can even navigate fully autonomously.

“SpotMini’s development was motivated by thinking about something that could go in an office or accessible place for businesses purposes, or a home eventually,” Raibert said during the conference.

SpotMini’s main frame is equipped with a quick-disconnect battery, stereo cameras in the front, side cameras and a “butt cam.” The “quadruped” can also be upgraded with a series of attachments on the top, including an articulated arm.

While third-parties will be able to develop systems to mount to SpotMini for different applications, Raibert noted that Boston Dynamics is working on some systems itself.

“We have a surveillance package where we have special low-light cameras mounted on the back, there’s a camera mounted in the arm, and the computer can take user code,” Raibert said.

Ultimately, Raibert believes that wheeled platforms “can only go so far,” but he also believes that legs are the answer to most human environments.

“There are lots of applications for legs, such as going up the stairwells in skyscrapers checking for things that should be left there,” Raibert explained. “We’re also looking at construction. Where as productivity in other areas has consistently gone up, in construction it’s almost flat – no technology has really been brought to bear to help.”

Raibert added, “the application is very much like the industrial security one, where you want to go around and use your sensors to see what’s going on, but here it’s in an environment that changes every day and the terrain is changing.”