The Terrifying New ‘SpotMini’ Boston Dynamics Robot Dog Is Here to Stare Into Your Soul

Is this robot from the Massachusetts-based company ready to scare the pants off consumers in real life?

byKyle Cheromcha|
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Back when eerie robot maker Boston Dynamics was owned by Google Alphabet, one source of concern for its parent company was just how freaked out the public seemed to be by the short demonstration videos of its quadrupedal and bipedal bots. But with Japanese tech colossus SoftBank writing the checks now, the latest updated version of its dog-like SpotMini robot shows the firm is doubling down on its Neill Blomkamp-esque vision of the future.

The company released a new video on Monday showing off the streamlined SpotMini that will one day patrol your property, scan the implanted ID chips of visitors, and terminate anyone who's not on the approved list. Presumably. For now, the not-so-mini robot is content to simply trot into view, briefly peer into your soul, and keep moving in the 20-second clip, with the promise of more information "coming soon" at the end.

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But for such a short teaser, there's a lot to unpack. Two big changes are immediately apparent compared with past Boston Dynamics robots: The SpotMini's movements have been streamlined, and it's been given a set of slick yellow body panels. The previous SpotMini's locomotion was always impressive, but between the update's smooth movements and smoother design, it really does look like a piece of CGI when it first bounds into view. It's a big departure from their nightmare-inducing designs of the past, and possibly the biggest sign yet that Boston Dynamics is preparing a consumer-grade robot.

However, if the company's previous robots were stuck firmly in the Uncanny Valley, the updated SpotMini has fallen into the Uncanny Crevasse. Maybe it's the fact that the body panels and updated front sensors give it a much more defined head and face than past versions, but you get an unnerving sense of being stared down and sized up when it looks into the camera. Of course, that's probably a good thing for the roboti guard dogs of the future.

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