Boston Dynamics, the makers of the very GIFable robots that will inevitably turn on us all, is preparing to unleash the first horseman of the robot apocalypse on the public. Starting in 2019, the company will make its SpotMini robot commercially available, the company revealed Friday.
Company founder Marc Raibert announced the plan to start selling the robot menaces, last seen attempting to open doors and escape to freedom, while on stage at TechCrunch’s “TC Sessions: Robotics” event at the University of California, Berkeley. The bots are currently in pre-production and will be available as soon as next year.
The SpotMini is a shrunken version of Boston Dynamics’ flagship bot called Spot. The dog-like quadruped, which will happily trick you into anthropomorphising it with cutesy behaviours it has been programmed to perform, stands just under three feet tall and weighs about 66 pounds, according to Boston Dynamics. The SpotMini’s robotic arm, which certainly will not play a role in the bot’s inevitable betrayal of its master, can hold up to 30 pounds.
The robotic pup—which unlike an actual dog is probably not very fun to pet and may eventually use its cold, unfeeling AI to determine the most efficient way to kill—moves smoothly thanks to its 17 joints and 3D vision system that allows it to perceive the world around it. SpotMini is electric and can operate for 90 minutes on a single charge—most of which it will spend plotting your demise, probably.
Boston Dynamics said it plans to work with contract manufacturers to build the first run of commercially available SpotMinis. It plans to eventually scale up production to make more, but only about 100 of the robots will be available to buy to start.
No price point has been set, and Boston Dynamics did not respond to request for comment regarding its expected retail price. The company claims the current prototype costs about 10 times less to build than the previous iteration. Since SpotMini was unveiled while Boston Dynamics was still part of Google and had access to the company’s deep pockets, it probably still wasn’t cheap.
Given the small initial run of the robots, it seems like the SpotMini will carry a hefty price tag—think more like an industrial robot like Baxter, which costs $22,000 (£16k), rather than a consumer robot like Sony’s Aibo (which is still priced in the $2,000/£1400 range). That will likely limit its availability to rich folk who want to express their wealth with mostly useless status symbols and startups that have too much investor money that they can frivolously spend.
The countdown to the terrible future when SpotMinis and their many robot brethren start the robot uprising has officially started. Boston Dynamics already let its bipedal Atlas Robot outside, which seems like a good way to Ex Machina us all. Grab a hockey stick and be ready to defend yourself.