In a year in which robots have done everything from flip burgers alongside fast-food chefs to perform a backflip worthy of an Olympic gymnast, it may come as no surprise that a bot is now trying to out-dance humans, too.
Last week, engineers at the Waltham, Massachusetts-based company Boston Dynamics released a short video showing its four-legged SpotMini robot shimmying, shaking and even moonwalking to Bruno Mars’ hit song “Uptown Funk.” Since it was uploaded a week ago, the minute-long clip has been watched more than 4 million times.
This is only the latest demonstration of SpotMini’s tricks. Previously, Boston Dynamics has shown the dog-like bot opening a door (as a human handler repeatedly tried to block its way); cleaning up around the house, using its telescoping, giraffe-like neck and “mouth” to gently load up a dishwasher; and even recycling.
These videos do more than delight (and sometimes terrify) us — they also highlight SpotMini’s agility and dexterity. And soon, the bot could find itself with a job beyond just showing off its rhythm. Boston Dynamics has confirmed that the robot will be commercially available as early as next year, reported CNET.
But just because they’re for sale doesn’t mean robots like the SpotMini herald a coming robot apocalypse. “Agile robots like SpotMini may have a place in the more distant future,” John Baillieul, an engineering professor at Boston University, told NBC News MACH in an email. “Boston Dynamics has been spectacularly successful in building walking robots for DARPA [the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency], but the company is very much a newcomer to the consumer space.”
Baillieul added that “the immediate future” for robots in our homes probably won’t involve dancing dogs like the SpotMini. Rather, it’s more likely that we’ll share our living spaces with smaller, specialized bots — like the Roomba vacuuming robots — that take over household chores.
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