Happy Holidays from Santa’s workshop as only Boston Dynamics can do it. You may love holiday greetings or find them too commercialized, but this one’s nearly impossible to forget.
This is not Virtual Reality or Wearables but the technology in robotics is pushed along by the same underlying dynamics. Faster, smaller, and less expensive. Boston Dynamics first unveiled Big Dog in 2005, a 240 pound quadruped robot that was scary enough. Over the years, their robotic dogs have gotten smaller, faster – and smarter.
For their holiday greeting, Boston Dynamics took the “Spot” model of its quadrupeds and dressed them up as reindeer. Add a Santa and sleigh, and you have yourself a robotic Christmas greeting – of course without the snow since we’re in record-breaking temperatures this week.
The “Spot” unit weighs 160 pounds, has an incredible ability to stabilize itself when kicked, and can work in packs with other units. It’s so “dog-like” that you almost cringe when it does get kicked. As Boston Dynamics is now owned by Google, and clients include the Department of Defense, there’s no shortage of resources or demand for their robotic projects.
Timothy J. Seppala’s comment in Engadget mirrored our own reaction to their holiday greeting:
I’m torn between wishing one of those was waiting under my Christmas tree, or treating this as an early warning sign of a holiday-themed Judgement Day robot takeover.
Under the tree this year it will be drones, Smartwatches, fitness trackers. And for the lucky ones who found one in stock, a Samsung Gear VR. But as the old saying goes, “Careful what you wish for.” Soon enough, a robotic descendant of Spot may be waiting for you on Christmas morning.
And if the dogs come first, you can bet that the more humanoid forms won’t be far behind. Yes, Boston Dynamics is working on that, too.
Maya Georgieva is an EdTech and XR strategist, futurist and speaker with more than 15 years of experience in higher education and global education policy. Her most recent work focuses on innovation, VR/AR and Immersive storytelling, design and digital strategy. Maya actively writes and speaks on the topics of innovation, immersive storytelling and the future of education and consults organizations and startups in this space.