Boston Dynamics has announced that it’s Spot robot is now available for order directly from the company, for just $74,500. The company reportedly only plans to sell about 1,000 robots a year, so it’s not trying to address the mass market. The goal is to put Spot in the hands of customers who will experiment and adapt the product to their own uses. The base package includes Spot, two batteries, a battery charger, a tablet controller, and Boston Dynamics’ APIs.
BD notes that the Spot Explorer (that’s the available version, as opposed to Spot Academic and Spot Enterprise), “can be adapted for tasks ranging from industrial inspection to entertainment.” On the product page, the company unpacks that a bit more. Spot is designed to traverse rough terrain, can climb stairs, and still operates easily indoors.
And, of course — inevitably — speaking of entertainment:
That’s the official version. Someone else uploaded a modified version to fix the beat drop, and I think it’s actually better (if you like dancing robots, anyway).
Boston Dynamics is shipping a number of optional add-on packages for Spot as well, including batteries, chargers, regulated power and ethernet ports, cameras (with panoramic view, color processing, and integrated communication), a second camera with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functionality, LIDAR, LIDAR + aforementioned cameras, and Spot Core, an additional CPU module for developers to use for edge processing. Spot Core, for the curious, includes a Core i5 9th Gen Whiskey Lake CPU (unspecified model), 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, runs Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, and connects directly to the payload port to draw power.
Interest in robots has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic, as companies seek ways to safeguard human lives while also operating with less staff. Boston Dynamics may find interest in Spot exceeds 1,000 units per year in short order.
VentureBeat asked Boston Dynamics if Spot would be sold to police departments and received the following reply:
To the extent that our robots are designed to take on tasks that may prove dangerous to human safety for public safety officers, like inspecting a suspicious package or responding to hazmat incidents, yes, Spot is available for purchase. However, they are not designed to replace police officers or carry out the work done by police officers. Our standard terms, which prohibit using the robots to physically harm or intimidate people, apply to all customers.
Taking a stand on what its products can and cannot be used for is a smart move, particularly right now. Boston Dynamics has done significant work with the US military through projects like Big Dog and Spot, and while it’s always highlighted the ways its robots could be used to protect human life, it’s clearly considering how those products may be perceived by the public.