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On Tuesday, robotics firm Boston Dynamics announced that its Spot quadruped robot is now on sale. Before getting too excited (or scared), it should be known that the machine is not for sale to just anybody. The firm is offering them to companies in “select industries” who have good ideas about how to deploy the robot.
The “early adopter program” is looking for companies that can put Spot to practical use and develop custom modules that can be fitted to its back to help it perform those tasks.
“What we’re doing is the productization of Spot,” CEO Marc Raibert told IEEE Spectrum. “It’s really a milestone for us going from robots that work in the lab to those that are hardened for work out in the field.”
"Just because of the scarcity of the robots that we have, we’re going to have to be selective about which partners we start working together with."
Boston Dynamics currently has about 20 of the units but is hoping to eventually get about 1,000 out in the field. This means that BD is going to have to be picky about who gets one. It also means they will be relatively expensive, costing about as much as a luxury automobile.
Some practical applications of the bot include checking for gas leaks with methane sensors or mapping the interior of a building using a back-mounted LiDAR module. It may also prove useful for various tasks at construction sites using the robotic arm that we have seen it use to open doors.
Interested companies can read more about what Spot can do at the Boston Dynamics website or watch the video above. If they have an intriguing or particularly practical use case in mind, they can submit their information and application idea through an online order form. Boston Dynamics will decide if the industry and use case is appropriate and contact the company with further ordering details.