From logistics to food prep, robots are designed to help save mankind from an epidemic.
Earlier this month, Hyundai acquired a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics, valued at $ 1.1 billion to the company. What is most interesting about the news is not the acquisition itself (it does, after all, get Boston dynamics Changing hands for the third time in seven years), rather the development of the company told us about the state of robotics in 2020.
When the Waltham, Massachusetts-based startup was acquired by Google in 2013, it was still a carefully cultivated secret. The Internet’s response to the company was largely one of curiosity shaded with curiosity, which should surprise little. The primary output from the public relations perspective of Boston Dynamics was viral videos of the quadrennial robots produced, but aided by Defense Department contracts. It does not take a giant leap to begin to color in intervals with dystopian emotion.
In instances where deployment of robots has been successful, the technology has helped reduce the burden on an affected workforce.
Some of them have certainly continued to follow the company. In an age of even less attention, one quickly tries unsuccessfully to kick a headless buzzing robot into the empty parking lot. Heck, to this day I welcome every post about the company with several gifs of knife-wielding robots from the “Metalhead” episode of “Black Mirror”.
While the company is still committed to its more bleeding-edge R&D concepts, Hyundai hasn’t bought a strange MIT-spinoff that makes viral Internet videos. It purchased a company actively working to monetize those efforts. As CEO Robert Platter told me in a recent interview, the company has sold 400 spots since opening initial availability about 15 months ago. This is not a large number, but it is an indication that the company’s interest in products goes beyond innovation.
Currently the primary work of the spot includes surveying hazardous workplaces, from nuclear reactors to oil spills. Boston Dynamics’ next product, Handel, will move boxes around a warehouse. That robot is set for sale at some point in 2022. “I think like robots every two years there is a speed that we can manage,” Platter told me. “With Clean Sheet, we can build a new robot within a year. “And then you have to go through an iterative process of refining that concept and starting to understand the market.”
Maturity in this industry requires a level of practicality. Working with describing the state of robotics in 2020, I would probably say that it is something like, “Cool technologies that work for uncool tasks. You can, no doubt, identify exceptions (bot and Creating special effects is certainly good for films like Dolly), but overall, Boston Dynamics is a perfect example of an impressive robot doing boring stuff. Any robotic will happily give you three DSs – the concept of monotonous, filthy and dangerous jobs. Will hammer in where technology is most likely to be deployed.