Design

These Robots Opening Doors May Appear (Very) Creepy, But The Development Is A Big Step Forward

by Penn Collins

February 14, 2018

THE GOOD NEWS:

Seeing headless quadruped robots teaming up to open a door may not give anyone the warm and fuzzies, but this admittedly disconcerting is a great step forward in robotics. 

 

 

You just have to get past the inevitable “Jurassic Park” or “War of the Worlds” comparisons to appreciate it, which is no easy feat. 

Boston Dynamics — the same company who brought us a clip of a comically inept humanoid, followed a few years later by a disconcertingly agile one — is the robotics firm behind this latest viral video as well. 

To appreciate where we are, let’s revisit the earlier clips:

Most recently, the company shared a clip of a pair of non-humanoid robots (dubbed “SpotMini”) seemingly working together to open a closed door. Perhaps it’s the appearance of the robots or the uncomfortably serpentine movements of the alpha robot’s “hand,” but the clip has created an almost universal sense of unease among those who watch it. 

The responses to the unnerving movements and ease with which the “dogs” gain access have been somewhat predictable and understandable: 

While one’s mind may run wild with the nightmarish scenarios this could present, the reality is that something as simple as a doorknob has remained elusive for robotics engineers, so these headless pups represent a triumph of sorts in that regard. This development means that while, yes, the robots could open your bedroom door and get you in your sleep, they can also access previously unreachable areas in the event of an emergency, or even assist disabled people in their homes. 

This sort of dexterity will soon lead to robots capable of not only opening doors but also climbing stairs or grabbing previously inaccessible items. 

So, yes, there’s something a little unnerving about a robot animal with an arm for a head that’s undeterred by a closed door, but before our imaginations run wild with nightmare scenarios, let’s think of the future benefits this odd video promises. 

Share image via BostonDynamics/YouTube.

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These Robots Opening Doors May Appear (Very) Creepy, But The Development Is A Big Step Forward