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Boston Dynamics' newest robot has a dog's name but walks like a horse

Boston Dynamics' newest robot has a dog's name but walks like a horse

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Boston Dynamics, the robotics company purchased by Google in 2013, is best known for BigDog, a quadrupedal robot designed to navigate rough terrain. Now BigDog has a baby brother. Spot is a smaller Boston Dynamics creation — only 160 lbs to BigDog's 240 lbs — but it shares its sibling's four hydraulic legs, its sensor head, and its uncanny ability to stay upright as it climbs slopes and picks its way across uneven ground.

Spot can keep its balance when kicked

Spot has a dog's name, but walks more like a weird horse, picking its feet off the ground with dainty precision and keeping pace with running humans by adopting an equine canter. Being one of the smallest of Boston Dynamics' bunch, it seems that Spot gets picked on — its introductory video shows a number of staff members aiming kicks at their creation — but the robot's onboard sensors allow it to recover as quickly as it would if it tripped in the field, maintaining its balance with a hint of wounded pride.

Lighter than most of Boston Dynamics' bots, Spot handily beats the much broader LS3 rough-terrain robot in a footrace, but it likely can't carry as much as its bigger brethren. What it loses as a beast of burden, Spot gains in practicality — its creators say it can be used indoors and out, and could eventually help with search and rescue, mapping, or accessing disaster zones.