Boston Dynamics began selling the base version of its robot dog Spot over the summer. Four legs and a remote-controlled body allow the droid to trot around, climb stairs, and even dance.
But, like most quadrupeds, Spot's abilities are fairly limited. Until you add a flexible arm that can open doors and pick up objects, that is. The limb, previously featured in videos dating back at least two years, was left out of the company's 2020 product launch. It is, however, expected to arrive "at some point early next year," according to TechCrunch, which cited Boston Dynamics CEO Rob Playter. "Like the base robot, there's much more to the arm than just hardware," Playter said. "It will ship with an intuitive UI, and be equipped to operate through both telemanipulation and supervised autonomous behaviors via the tablet."
The arm—which looks more like a claw-shaped head poking out of the sleek yellow-and-black body—boasts six degrees of freedom for automated actions (offered as beta features). Developers can access the gripper through API. In an interview with TechCrunch, Playter revealed an enterprise-focused version of Spot that comes with its own self-charging dock, also set to arrive in 2021. Designed for use in autonomous situations—like on oil rigs or in radiation danger zones—the robot can return unguided for a recharge.
Additional details and pricing for the arm attachment and charging dock have not been revealed. Boston Dynamics did not immediately respond to ThinkAuthority's request for comment. The company has reportedly sold more than 250 of its $75,000 Spot robots since June.