Boston Dynamics’ Spot is leaving the laboratory

A new leasing program is putting dozens of robots to work in the real world

Boston Dynamics is letting its first major robot out of the lab.

Since June, the company has been talking about a public release for its Spot robot (formerly SpotMini), and today, it finally gave some details about what’s in store. The Spot isn’t going on sale exactly, but if you’re a company with a good idea (and some money), you’ll be able to get one. That also means, for the average person on the street, that the odds of seeing a Spot in the wild just got a lot better.

The capabilities are more or less what the company showed off in June, but it’s still impressive to see them in person. The Spot can go where you tell it, avoid obstacles, and keep its balance under extreme circumstances — which are all crucial skills if you’re trying to navigate an unknown environment.

The Spot can also carry up to four hardware modules on its back, giving companies a way to swap in whatever skills the robot needs for this particular job. If it’s checking for gas leaks, you can build in a methane detector. If you need connectivity over longer distances, you can attach a mesh radio module. Boston Dynamics is already outfitting units with LIDAR rigs from Velodyne (a favorite component for self-driving car projects) to create 3D maps of indoor spaces. Since the Spot is designed to work in the rain, outdoor spaces are on the table, too.

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