A Brief History of Boston Dynamics’ Future-Forward (And Surreal) Robots

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All the incredible (and surreal) robots Boston Dynamics​ has ever made. Facebook: facebook.com/futurism/ Twitter: twitter.com/futurism Instagram: instagram.com/futurism/ Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/9410539/

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Boston Dynamics’s SpotMini Is Really, Really Determined to Open Doors

In early February, Boston Dynamics’s SpotMini robot impressed the world with its new ability to open a door all by itself and then hold it open for a fellow robot to walk through. Now, Boston Dynamics and SpotMini are back to show off the latter’s dedication to opening doors.

On February 20, Boston Dynamics shared a new video in which SpotMini once again approaches the now-familiar door. This time, however, the bot is met with resistance in the form of a person wielding a hockey stick. The conflict between man and machine lasts roughly 30 seconds before one emerges victorious.

“Software provides locomotion, balance, and adjusts [SpotMini’s] behavior when progress gets off track,” reads the video’s YouTube description. “The ability to tolerate and respond automatically to disturbances like these improves successful operation of the robot.”

The video isn’t meant to highlight how terrible people can be but rather SpotMini’s ability to adapt to external forces and stay on task. It’s also another concrete example future robots and artificial intelligences (AI) will be able to cite when trying to prove humans used to be mean to them.

Boston Dynamics seems to be aware that the public may react negatively to a clip that features what looks like a (headless) robot dog just trying to do its best. “This testing does not irritate or harm the robot,” reads a note in the video’s description.

We’ll likely see more from Boston Dynamics and SpotMini in the future, but it’s anyone’s guess what new trick the robo-dog will reveal next. Perhaps SpotMini will graduate from door handles to doorknobs or learn how to insert a key into a lock. Maybe Boston Dynamics will reverse the roles, and SpotMini will keep a person from opening a door.

Any scenario you can imagine has the possibility of being equal parts entertaining and terrifying.

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Only a fool would dare interrupt Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini from opening a door

It was only a mere week ago that the world got to see what Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot dog has been up to. Not only did it make a new friend, it also learned how to open doors for said friend. How sweet.

A followup video posted today by the SoftBank-owned company, however, reveals a grave mistake by one of its creators. The video, titled “Testing Robustness,” shows a human attempting to get in the way of SpotMini’s door opening routine. He first halts the robot with a hockey stick, pushing its new arm attachment away from the door. When that didn’t work, he holds the door against the robot to prevent it from successfully pulling it open. SpotMini persists, which results in the man pulling the robot from behind and dragging it…

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Boston Dynamics’ robots won’t be held back by puny humans

Are you looking for the exact moment when the robots decide to turn on their human creators? You might want to mark this day on your calendar. Boston Dynamics has posted video of a SpotMini test where it gauged the bot's ability to adjust to interf…
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Boston Dynamics’s SpotMini Just Unveiled a New Trick

SpotMini, Boston Dynamics’s dog-like quadruped robot, is back, and it’s learned a new trick. The robot, which was unveiled in June 2016 and then updated in November 2017, can now open doors and hold them open.

While opening a door is slightly old hat for a Boston Dynamics robot — Atlas barreled through a push-bar door two years ago — SpotMini’s operation is more eloquent. The robot uses its fifth appendage, an arm mounted essentially where a canine’s head would be, to swiftly assess the door, locate and twist the handle, and pull the door open.

In a video released by Boston Dynamics, not only does the new-and-improved SpotMini open the door for itself, it even holds it open for its robot colleague. A portrait of professional collegiality, this is a big step up from the solo activities of washing dishes or rolling over.

Boston Dynamics has made steady progress in their efforts to build robots that move in a life-like manner, whether it’s Atlas’ Homo sapiens-like saunter or SpotMini’s four-legged gallop. The same month they debuted their updated SpotMini, the company made headlines by releasing a video showing their Atlas robot’s back-flipping antics.

The SpotMini’s latest development is confirmation that progress continues to march on behind Boston Dynamics’s doors. But while biomimetic robots are certainly useful — the ability to copy human motion enables these robots to dexterously manipulate objects and navigate complex terrain — they still inspire more fear than awe in many people.

Outlets such as The Verge and Popular Mechanics have noted the similarities between SpotMini and the door-opening velociraptors of Jurassic Park splendor — not exactly a calming comparison, so if you envision these robots taking over the world, you’re not alone.

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Boston Dynamics’ robots are the politest ‘pets’ you’ll meet

We hope you weren't planning on sleeping tonight. Boston Dynamics has posted a video showing that its SpotMini robot can hold the door open for its fellow automatons. If one bot needs a helping hand, it'll signal to another machine nearby that can…
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Webpass is leaving Boston in latest sign of Google Fiber’s shrinking ambitions

Webpass, the wireless home broadband company that Google Fiber acquired in 2016, is exiting the Boston market. The Verge received a reader tip on the situation and a quick look around revealed that Boston is no longer listed as a current Webpass market on the company’s website. (It still appeared as recently as December.) Reached by phone Tuesday evening, a Webpass customer service representative confirmed that the company has stopped accepting new customers in Boston. And in a statement, Access — the Alphabet subsidiary that runs Google Fiber — also confirmed the news.

“As with any acquisition, we’ve spent some time evaluating the Webpass business. As a result of our analysis, we’ve made the decision to wind down Webpass operations in…

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Boston startup Starry expands its wireless broadband beta service to LA and DC

Today, internet service provider Starry announced it would be rolling out its wireless broadband service to Los Angeles and Washington, DC, with the two cities joining Boston as the first to support the service, according to Multichannel. Like the initial Boston rollout, Starry’s service will be available in select areas of the cities to start, and it will expand over time as the company builds out its infrastructure.

Starry uses local antennas to beam internet directly using millimeter wave band technology — the same short-range, high-speed frequency range that 5G technology will be relying on, although Starry predates the formal 5G standard and isn’t technically 5G. For now, the company is only promising 200 Mbps download speeds, but…

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Lyft is now offering self-driving car trips in Boston

Lyft’s first self-driving car pilot is officially underway. The company is sending autonomous vehicles — developed by the startup NuTonomy — to pick up passengers in Boston’s Seaport district, which is a growing tech hub. The cars are not completely driverless, as human safety drivers will remain behind the wheel, ready to take control when needed. But it’s a big moment for Lyft, which has seen its star rise this year as its main rival Uber was beset by numerous self-inflicted scandals.

Here’s how it works: riders will randomly be paired with one of NuTonomy’s self-driving cars when they use the Lyft app in the Seaport area. NuTonomy, which spun out of MIT in 2013 and was recently purchased by automotive supplier Delphi, has been…

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