Boston Dynamics hands Spot the robot dog over to Adam Savage for training

Savage will help teach the dog new tricks now that Spot's SDK is available to the public.

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
2 min read
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Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot Spot Mini can walk, climb, run, jump, carry heavy loads, open doors, do backflips and dance

Former MythBusters host Adam Savage just got one of his own, and he wants to see what he can do with it now that the Spot Software Development Kit (SDK) that allows for customizing the robot is publicly available.  

"Over the course of the year, the entertainer and engineer will develop and deploy custom hardware and software on Spot that demonstrates the flexibility of the platform through a variety of entertaining applications," Boston Dynamics said in a statement on Thursday. 

The four-legged robot weighs 55-66 pounds (25-30 kilograms) and can carry about 31 pounds (14 kilograms). SpotMini is all-electric and can run for up to 90 minutes on a charge. 

In a new video for Adam Savage's Tested posted Thursday, Savage reveals he'll be conducting builds and projects with Spot, integrating it into the workshop and taking it on adventures in the field, including an outdoor training course shown in the vid.

First, Savage tests Spot's ability to climb rocks -- with varied results. Then when Savage puts the robot in the crawl setting, it succeeds on first try. Savage continues his tests by walking Spot through a large metal pipe tunnel, then having it crawl under a small bridge, and finally climb stairs.

"I've always thought these things were amazing pieces of engineering every time I've seen them, but actually running him through his paces makes it clear on an even deeper level what a miracle Spot is," Savage said in the video. 

It's fun to see the robot in action outside in the real world instead of the usual Boston Dynamics lab. But the most enjoyable part of the video is watching Savage talk to Spot like it's a real dog.

The Spot robot dogs went on sale for early adopters in September 2019. Since then "customers have been building software applications and custom payloads on the platform in industries ranging from construction, energy utility, public safety, mining, and entertainment," according to Boston Dynamics. 

The SDK allows both developers and non-traditional roboticists to communicate with the robot and develop custom applications that enable Spot to do useful tasks.

Developers will still need to become part of the Early Adopter Program to lease the robot to execute their code, but all interested parties can now view the SDK on GitHub, and existing early adopters can open-source their own code.

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