Boston Dynamics delivers Terminator vibes with self thinking robot dogs

Boston Dynamics delivers Terminator vibes with self-thinking robot dogs

To many people, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot is a cutie pie. If it’s up to his creators, that won’t stay that way for long. With the help of AI, the yellow mechanical rascal has to start thinking for himself. Brr…

ChatGPT is a popular topic and many developers are all too eager to jump on the AI train. Robot maker Boston Dynamics is certainly no exception.

Boston Dynamics is best known for the yellow robot dog it developed. It is currently controlled by remote control, but will soon have to actually think for itself.

Boston Dynamics focuses on AI

Boston Dynamics has been owned by Korea’s Hyundai since 2020. The company did see bread in the robots it was making. Although the robot dog seems especially fun as entertainment because it can, for example, dance, run and jump, other applications are conceivable. For example, because he walks so well, he can be used in difficult areas as a scout during a rescue operation.

Impressive, but it still gives a nice feeling that there is ultimately a human behind the controls. Since August 2023, founder Marc Raibert and Hyundai have deployed an AI institute with the goal of making the robots work autonomously. And that seems pretty scary to us….

Terminator in real life: robots from Boston Dynamics start thinkingSpot Robot Boston Dynamics (Source: ANP / Patricia de Melo Moreira / AFP)

Still, the language model for an AI program like ChatGPT is slightly different from one specifically for robots. ChatGPT gets the information mainly from what people say and do, while the AI language model of robot machines has to make them think.

In the case of Boston Dynamics, it means that the robot must learn to use its body better and better to climb over obstacles, for example. Eventually, then, the machine must make its own decisions about how to get from A to B.

From robots to humanoids

Although Boston Dynamics is best known for its robot dog Spot, the company is also developing humanoids. These are robots inspired by humans and thus walk on two legs. Speaking to Wired, Raibert reveals that he expects some work to be performed by humanoids.

He cites warehouse work as an example. “Employers are very frustrated by the difficulty of finding people and the turnover of staff. You can organize the environment, but we are focused on the real future.”

But Boston Dynamics is also working in other areas. For example, it has created a team to repair bicycles. It doesn’t stop there. It is even working on a bicycle with a spring mechanism. Using AI, you should be able to jump from one place to another with that bike, just like you see with BMX’ers, for example.

Afraid of robots

It’s pretty natural to get a little scared of robots that can think for themselves. Before you know it, you get a Terminator scenario, which you may know from the movies. Of course, that’s all made up and the founder of Boston Dynamics thinks that’s unfair.

“Most of the bad things that happen in the world don’t come from robots. So are people really afraid of them? On the contrary, my experience is that people love to interact with them. They take selfies with robot dog Spot and pet him. That passion or fear can even vary from robot to robot.”

Raibert is even surprised that big names in the tech world such as Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX) and Sam Altman (OpenAI) say we should be careful. “People are afraid that robots will take over every job, but we are in the process of giving robots only one job, and even that is already something for the long haul.”

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