Marc Raibert, CEO of Google-owned Boston Dynamics, unveiled his company’s latest projects at NIPS in Barcelona, Spain. One of the strangest is a dogbot called SpotMini (video). This dogbot is a four-legged robot that (loosely) resembles a small dog and can perform tasks like opening heavy doors and climbing stairs to deliver packages to the front door of a home. According to Raibert, he sees not reason why dogbots couldn’t compete against drones for package delivery services.
Boston Dynamics has previously shown videos of Spot Mini operating in a mocked-up home performing tasks like climbing stairs, opening doors, and even emptying a dishwasher using its gripper. The robot uses a neck-like appendage and a gripper that enables it to do multiple useful manipulation tasks – including delivery of packages.
The competition for delivering packages is from Amazon, who is leading package delivery by aerial drone. Only last week, CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted that the company completed its first trial delivery via Prime Air in Cambridge, England (video). That maiden flight occurred on December 7th, 2016.
Our personal prediction is that the winner will go to the dogbots, because they appear to be capable of pizza delivery. Obviously, these other uses will only be ancillary for people who want to see if SpotMini could deliver a 400-pound load of dog food. We reserve the right to alter that prediction, however, as we noted that a small personal pizza could probably be handled by the Amazon Prime Air drone. And Prime Air already promises order delivery in 30 minutes from the time you place the order. And confidentially, we’re not so sure how fast dogbots can go, nor how they would compete against the straight line of flight offered by Prime Air. And then there would be toll charges to contend with.
We remain excited, now that the robodog is challenging Prime Air for delivery elegance. And even though they’ve both been experimenting with packages, all of us non-experts know that true market dominance will definitely go to the service that can get a hot pizza to our door.