A well known report from the Oxford Martin school, published in 2013, says that 47 percent of US jobs will be automated in 20 years. While people have, understandably been focused on the impact on human jobs, it turns out that the robots are after the dog jobs too.
A new robot unveiled in this video from Google owned Boston Dynamics will eventually compete for the jobs of working dogs including bomb sniffers, guide dogs, police dogs, herding dogs and search and rescue animals.
Spot is an autonomous robot dog with four hydraulic legs and a head packed with sensors to help it navigate through rough terrain or city streets.
In the video, Spot walks through the Boston Dynamics office and while it does make a whirring noise and a sort of klip-klop sound with it’s feet, it is still much quieter than would be expected for a robot of it’s size. It also currently has no outer covering which would muffle such noises to an extent.
During the video the robot is kicked by a few Boston Dynamics workers, presumably to demonstrate it’s stability. When kicked the robot stumbles a little but does not fall and is not thrown off course.
Spot is also shown navigating through some trees, going up and down some steep inclines and navigating a set of stairs. The robotic dog also jogs, keeping pace with a human companion and then with a second “Spot.”
Using it’s sensors and GPS technology the dog should be able to serve as a herding dog, guide dog, or search and rescue animal. It’s ability to do search and rescue as well as its ability to serve as a bomb sniffing or police dog should be aided by its durability. The robe-dog can go places people can’t and take abuse that people couldn’t without much strain.
Google is already good at creating automated navigation systems, as evidenced by their self driving cars. Navigation for those and for robots like Spot, however, will be aided considerably as the “Internet of things” comes online.
The Internet of things (IoT) is defined by wikipedia as “…the inclusion of electronics and software in any device not usually considered computerized in nature, to enable it to achieve greater value and service by giving it an ability to network and communicate with other devices. Each item is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing device but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.”
The ability of sensors in robots to read data from internet enabled devices will assist not only in navigation but the ability of the robot to interact with other devices.