Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert demos the Spot at Disrupt

The audience at Disrupt got a surprise visit from Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot. While the company’s YouTube channel is quite popular, it’s even more impressive to see one of Boston Robotics’ robots in action.

Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert got interviewed by TechCrunch’s Brian Heater. The two of them spent some time commenting on a video of the company’s various robots over the years, from the BigDog to the anthropomorphic Petman.

The Spot in particular is optimized for home delivery. It looks like a dog, and it can climb stairs, open doors and more. The last couple of generations have been getting smaller and smaller. The SpotMini is a much smaller version of the Spot and was introduced a few months ago. The reason is quite simple — small is beautiful.

“We also want to make our robots friendly,” Raibert said. “Our 250-pound robots — nobody wants to get near them.” The SpotMini robot can walk around tiny apartments. The clamping arm is stabilized like a rooster neck. So you can imagine having a SpotMini delivering a glass of wine without spilling anything. This is probably the closest we’ve come to a robot butler.

“On our YouTube channel, there’s 20 to 1 likes to dislikes. Over the last few years, it’s something like 50 to 1,” Raibert said. “And yet, the media has been relentlessly talking about how terrifying the robots are. There’s a disconnect in my mind.”

The SpotMini’s big brother, the original Spot, walked around the Disrupt stage, stretched its legs, walked sideways, turned around and more. At some point, the robot jumped on two legs and didn’t fall.

When asked about the rumors that Google is looking for an acquirer to sell Boston Dynamics, Raibert didn’t really comment. “I’ve heard the rumors, that’s about all I can say,” he said.

“The thing I said when we got acquired is that DARPA had a big ambition and a lot of resources. And Google has even more ambition and resources,” Raibert said. He even said that Boston Dynamics has more freedom now that it’s part of Google.

So it looks like Raibert wants to prove that the Boston Dynamics products are more than scary military robotic dogs. They can be cute little robots for our homes. Based on the “awwws” in the audience, the cuteness campaign seems to be working.

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