Boston Dynamics Gets Huge Cash Boost Ahead of Robo-Dog Launch This Year

By Mike Brown –
Seeing Spots.
No matter how big-brained your dog is, it probably can’t load a dishwasher or do a dance on command. Those are just two of the reasons why Boston Dynamics, creators of the surprisingly cute robo-dog SpotMini, received $37 million from its owner, Softbank. The people want their protean pups!
And man, will they get them. By the middle of 2019, production of the mechanical mutts will ramp up to 1,000 units a year. Their sporty, plastic yellow coats may not be as fuzzy as a golden retriever’s, but at least you won’t have to pick up their poop. Softbank is betting big on elder care and in-home robots, as the population ages.Watch the unexpectedly adorable pups in action. 

Boston Dynamics has received a big funding injection to get its robots moving. A recent report revealed that the robo-dog development firm has received $37 million from its owner Softbank. The funding comes amid the team’s efforts to bring its SpotMini to market this year.

The Yahoo report found that the Japanese multinational, which purchased the group from Google parent company Alphabet in June 2017 for a reported $100 million, made two major loans to Boston Dynamics in June and September 2018. The loans, made through U.K.-registered firm Softbank Group Capital, were translated into common shares in January 2019. Boston Dynamics was first founded in 1992, borne out of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology team, but beyond military projects it has yet to release a commercially available product. Boston’s breakthroughs include the towering Atlas bipedal machine and the SpotMini robot dog that inspired an episode of Black Mirror.

(See more: Boston Dynamics Is Building Its Robot Dog Empire at a Construction Site)

Boston Dynamics is now gearing up to bring its SpotMini to market. At the CeBIT conference in Hanover, Germany, in May 2018, founder Marc Raibert told the audience that “this robot will be available next year…we’ve built ten by hand, we’re building 100 with manufacturers at the end of this year, and in the middle of 2019, we’re going to begin production at the rate of about 1,000 a year.”

The machine could help with a variety of home tasks. Its claw is capable of hauling 30 pounds despite only weighing 66 pounds itself, and its small height of two feet nine inches make it useful as a not-too-imposing house bot. Newer versions sport a yellow casing, and its programmed abilities include picking up cans, loading a dishwasher and doing a dance.

Pricing and release dates for the SpotMini are as yet unclear, but more information is likely to follow later this year as production ramps up.

Just hope it doesn’t learn any tricks from Black Mirror.

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