If Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot fails to gain a foothold in industry, then it can surely make a living by entertaining the masses.
The company this week released a video (below) showing a troupe of Spots perform a beautifully choreographed dance in celebration of the recent completion of Hyundai’s acquisition of the Massachusetts-based tech firm.
Moving skillfully to IONIQ: I’m On It by K-pop sensation BTS, seven Spots showed off not only their remarkable agility but also their impressive ability to work as a team.
Boston Dynamics said the robots’ ability to avoid knocking into each other during the dance display was entirely down to “painstaking positioning and programming” rather than Spot’s built-in obstacle avoidance smarts.
“There were a lot of challenges around getting the vision of our choreographer, who’s used to dealing with human dancers, into our software,” Boston Dynamics roboticist Eric Whitman said in an article on the company’s website. “Everything had to be worked out in advance and scripted precisely. Robots have the advantage over humans in that they’re very repeatable: Once you get it right, it stays right. But they have the disadvantage that you have to tell them every little detail. They don’t improvise at all.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Spot strutting its stuff. Three years ago it pulled some moves to the Mark Ronson hit Uptown Funk while more recently it was seen grooving to The Contours’ Do You Love Me in an end-of-year video that also featured other Boston Dynamics robots.
Away from the dance floor, Boston Dynamics is marketing its robotic quadruped as a versatile work assistant capable of carrying out various tasks in a range of industries. At $74,500, semi-autonomous Spot isn’t cheap, but its advanced skills and ability to be configured for different roles have prompted some organizations to take Spot for a spin, among them Ford, which has been using it to map one of its facilities, and Norwegian oil producer Aker BP, which used it for inspection work and data gathering, among other tasks.
Hyundai announced its intention to acquire Boston Dynamics from Japanese tech giant SoftBank at the end of last year, with the deal completing in June. Boston Dynamics will now work with Hyundai to develop cutting-edge robotics with advanced mobility, manipulation, and vision capabilities.