At IROS in Madrid a few weeks ago, Marc Raibert showed a few new videos during his keynote presentation. One was of Atlas doing parkour, which showed up on YouTube last week, and the other was just a brief clip of SpotMini dancing, which Raibert said was a work in progress. Today, Boston Dynamics posted a new video of SpotMini (which they're increasingly referring to as simply "Spot") dancing to Uptown Funk, and frankly displaying more talent than the original human performance. The twerking is cute, but gets a little weird when you realize that SpotMini's got some eyeballs back there as well. While we don't know exactly what's going on in this video (as with many of Boston Dynamics' video), my guess would be that these are a series of discrete, scripted behaviors that are played in sequence.
Don't believe him, just watch. Spot the robo-dog has another trick up his sleeve in a new video where he can be seen twerking to Bruno Mars' dance-worthy hit'Uptown Funk.' Boston Dynamics, the secretive firm behind the four-legged droid, released the video on Tuesday. If you thought humans were safe from the impending robot takeover on the dance floor, you might want to think again. In the minute-long clip, Spot can be seen stepping and moving almost perfectly in time with the music. And in a testament to Spot's precise motor control, the robot performs his own version of the popular Running Man dance.
And we focus really on the athletic part of it. I think, though, that if you do a good job on the athletic part, which is also kind of the low-level part, you can make it easier for high-level AI to interact with you." In other words, it's much easier to direct a robot to take care of a task for you if you've already taught the robot how to stand, walk, navigate, and so on.
It's the undisputed heavyweight champion of AI held up as proof of machines hell-bent on the destruction of humanity. In my experience seeing Atlas do parkour and backflips, and four-legged Spot robots get pushed around by humans, Boston Dynamics is a close second. These robots fascinate and terrify people. If facial recognition software and Amazon's Alexa are held up as popular examples of surveillance capitalism, Boston Dynamics videos are usually shoved in my face by people afraid of these robots' mobility and physical prowess. This is partially due to the advanced robotics and unique design, and partially due to the success of a YouTube campaign over the course of the past six months in which each video sucks up millions of views.
At the WIRED25 festival in San Francisco Sunday evening, Boston Dynamics' SpotMini robot got onstage and did what no other quadruped robot has done before: It danced the running man like it was born to. It was a bit more, well, robotic than a human, but it illustrated just how far Spot has come: Twenty-five years into both WIRED's and Boston Dynamics' lives, robots have finally grown sophisticated enough to dance through our world. As impressive as Spot's new moves are, they came paired with frank talk from Boston Dynamics boss Marc Raibert, who spoke with WIRED editor in chief Nicholas Thompson about the capabilities, aspirations, and futures of both Spot and the humanoid robot Atlas. You might have seen the video a few days ago of Atlas doing parkour, bounding up a multi-leveled structure with ease. While the performance seemed effortless, it took over 20 attempts.