Robotics firm Boston Dynamics is finally preparing to hit the market with its first commercially available machine, the robot dog Spot.
The company’s chief executive, Marc Raibert, said that the robot would certainly be available before the end of the year in an interview with technology news site The Verge.
Also known as the Spot Mini, the robot was previewed in November 2017 showing a robust chassis and sensor housing with a sleek black and yellow colour scheme.
Speaking on the sidelines of Amazon’s conference in Las Vegas – where the retail giant announced its new robotic delivery drones – Mr Raibert said the company was aiming to manufacture 1,000 a year.
The chief executive declined to suggest a price for the robot, but said that the mass-produced models would be “much less expensive than prototypes… and less expensive than other people’s quadrupeds”.
Spot is not a completely autonomous robot and the machines require human handlers – but, according to The Verge, they are simple to control with a directional pad, just as if they were a remote-controlled car.
Construction companies in Japan had become early customers, Mr Raibert confirmed, although the initial military market which the company had courted does not appear to have materialised.
Technology giant SoftBank bought Boston Dynamics from Google’s parent company Alphabet for an undisclosed sum back in June 2017.
The robotics business had been on sale for more than a year after it failed to meet attempts to fulfil US military contracts, with the noise of the robots dissuading the Pentagon from splashing out on the kit.
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Of the range of robots that Boston Dynamics has built, including Big Dog, the Spot was the most likely to be able to meet the criteria for a contract in the future.
It is the quietest robot that the company develops and is all-electric, with no hydraulic parts, and Boston Dynamics claims it can run for about 90 minutes on a charge.
The research and development of the original Big Dog robot was funded by the US military’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) although it does not appear to currently be considered for military uses.