Alphabet’s Boston Dynamics released a video in which the company shows off its SpotMini dog-like prototype robot as it loads a dishwasher, carries a soda can to the trash and flawlessly stands up after falling on a banana skin. The robotics firm, which is up for sale, previously unveiled a four-legged robot named Spot and lately showed a smaller version of it. The semi-autonomous robot has an extendable neck that allows it to help around the house.

SpotMini weighs 55 lbs. and 65 lbs. With its neck, which it uses as an arm. The new electric prototype, which is seen gracefully walking under a dining room table, can run for 90 minutes on a single charge but it can also depend on the intensity of its movements, the company said, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Google-owned Boston Dynamics unveiled its latest robot, called the SpotMini. Credit: Boston Dynamics

The robot appears in the video walking out of Boston Dynamics’ headquarters and into a home as the company wants to show the world that its creation has the potential to become a useful part of people’s everyday lives. However, it is clear that SpotMini needs to be improved when it offhandedly puts a glass in the dishwasher. Still, the dog-like machine’s applications seem to be very promising.

“This video is saying, ‘Look we can do these things, it’s not hard,” said Georgia Tech engineering professor Aaron D. Ames, a robotics researcher, according to CBS News. “It’s really a demonstration of the transferability of fundamental ideas, which is sometimes hard for the public and CEOs and executives to grasp.”

The company also intends to prove the robot can work on its own by filming it as it uses its extendable neck to put itself back up after encountering a dropped banana skin and falling suddenly. Just like its older brothers, SpotMini is resistant to crashes and has the capability to climb stairs.

One of the most noticeable differences between SpotMini and most of the other prototypes of the series is that its electric motors make it one of the quietest robots Boston Dynamics has built. The others have used loud hydraulics. Jerry Pratt, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, pointed out that no one would like to see hydraulic oil on their carpet, CBS News reported.

The ability to help around the house while being quiet might make people think they would like to welcome SpotMini as an additional family member.

The firm said the prototype has several different sensors that include depth cameras, proprioception sensors in the limbs, and a solid state gyro, according to the report by the Daily Mail. The robot’s sensors help them navigate across the areas and manipulate objects. The company noted that SpotMini can perform some tasks autonomously but sometimes needs a human for more complicated operations.

Boston Dynamics not likely to generate real revenue

Bloomberg reported in March that Alphabet Inc., Google’s parent company, had put Boston Dynamics for sale because it seemed unlikely that the robotics firm would soon deliver an actual marketable product. The site said Alphabet had plans to make sure every single company under its corporate umbrella would produce real revenue, but it recently determined that Boston Dynamics would not achieve that goal anytime soon.

Google acquired it in 2013 along with a variety of robotics firms as part of a deal set up by Andy Rubin, who used to be the director of the Android division and left the company in October 2014.

Source: Daily Mail