There is nothing to be afraid of “Leather bags” yet – in reality, Spot is not at all as creepy as its counterpart-killer from the Black Mirror.
Massachusetts police tested Boston Dynamics’ four-legged Spot robot from August to November 2019. The OneZero Edition, through an official request, gained access to documents containing test results.
OneZero examined 28 pages with emails, where representatives of the police and Boston Dynamics discussed the performance of Spot during dangerous situations, as well as the difficulties that the robot had when walking on stairs and hills.
Not very successful first mission
The publication found that a robotic dog was used in at least one case of a bomb explosion threat. In August 2019, Walmart employees noticed a suspicious man who put his old suitcase in the trash in the parking lot in front of the store and contacted the police.
Sappers along with Spot arrived at the scene – they hoped that the robotic dog would approach the suitcase and appreciate the danger. According to a report that the police provided to Boston Dynamics, when they tried to turn on the robot, it entered the “sit” mode.
The technician tried several times to turn the Spot off and on, but nothing helped. Soon, the sappers still managed to get the robot to approach the suitcase so that it would shoot a video. But the quality of the video, according to the police, was not very good: “The video material did not allow a detailed and accurate study of the subject and the environment.” In the end, the police sent explosives for a suitcase. There was no bomb inside.
In the report, the police indicated that Spot had reached its goal of “arriving at the scene, inspecting the area for additional threats, confirming observations and collecting additional information.”
If you do not take into account the initial technical hitch, which, of course, requires improvements, we fulfilled the goals and checked the suspicious item. GOOD first mission !! [style retained]
from the police report
Fall from the stairs and run on the spot.
The police conducted several additional tests. During one of them, Spot experienced “difficulties with the front limbs” and fell forward. During another experiment, the robotic dog ran on the spot when he met a climb on the way.
Police officers also tested the Spot descent down the stairs – after several steps, the robot began to swing and fell “for no apparent reason.” In another case, the dog sharply tumbled to its side when faced with tall grass. The police called the technical problems “minor” and said they would like to work with the device in the future.
I am a big fan. Every time I managed to use Spot, I felt like a spoiled child who makes a list of Christmas presents.
Massachusetts Police Engineer
Representatives of Boston Dynamics told OneZero that after testing they “fixed bugs” in the robots of other clients. The company emphasized that Massachusetts police officers tested Spot one of the first when robops could not be bought yet.
The Verge noted that the first spot tests in real life show that robots are still far from “capturing the world”, not to mention the performance of human functions in the workplace. The device, of course, can help people, but in reality it is not as scary as it was on impressive company demonstrations, journalists say.
At the end of 2019, Boston Dynamics began selling Spot on leasing terms – since then at least 75 companies have tested the device. In February 2020, the robot found work at an oil rig in Norway, where he was entrusted with the search for gas leaks.