Boston Dynamics' eerily lifelike SpotMini robots can't just sprint like a mechanical cheetah, open doors, and load a dishwasher, it's also capable of some seriously heavy lifting, as demonstrated in a new video.
In the clip, a pack of 10 SpotMinis haul a truck across Boston Dynamics' parking lot- a feat more often seen on World's Strongest Man. The truck is in neutral, and the little bots are towing it up a one degree gradient.
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The video isn't just a stunt, though – extracting stuck vehicles can be a huge challenge for emergency services and the military, particularly when the ground isn't suitable for a full-sized tow truck, or there are trees and other obstacles in the way.
If a herd of four-legged helpers could combine their strength to tow vehicles out of sticky situations, rescuers could save valuable time, effort, and potentially lives.
See SpotMini run
Each SpotMini weighs 30kg (25kg without its arm) and is 0.84 meters tall, making it compact enough to strut around a home or office with ease. It's fully electric, and can spend 90 minutes lending a hand with chores before its battery needs a top-up.
SpotMini's biggest appeal is its flexibility. Boston Dynamics isn't marketing it for any single purpose, but has demonstrated it crawling under obstacles, climbing stairs, picking up small objects, and righting itself after falling. Potential uses could include fetching and sorting items in a warehouse, carrying medicines and samples around a hospital, search and rescue, and defence.
The first batch of these bots is trotting off the production line now, and will be available to buy soon. We don't yet know the price, but it's safe to say that the team of 10 seen in the latest video will set you back considerably more than the box truck they're pulling.
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Cat is the editor of TechRadar's sister site Advnture. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better)