Kowtow to the Bow-Wow

Allyssa Gauer, Columnist

You throw your dog’s favorite ball towards the opposite end of the field. The dog runs, picks it up and, hopefully, brings this toy back to you for another toss. This is a typical game of fetch: fairly simple, and extremely well known to all dog owners. However, what if this wasn’t a dog? Now, imagine a dog-like robot sprinting for the ball as soon as you release it from your grasp. This robot uses sensors and high tech cameras to survey its surroundings, then suddenly jumps up and seizes the ball from the air, landing down on all fours, and jogging back to you. No matter your thoughts and opinions, this dog-like robot, called a SpotMini, will be out to purchase soon. So, don’t be surprised if soon you see a robotic dog running alongside your pet at the dog park.

This unique robotic creature was created by Boston Dynamics. Once founded in 1992, they began working and took 26 years to design this complicated machine, according to TechCrunch. After many prototypes, Boston Dynamics believes that they have developed a model that will create a fine base for the improvement of future designs. CNN states that the SpotMini will be ready to purchase as of the year 2019. The price is still undetermined. However, the new prototype will cost 10 times less than the original, making it so that the price should be cheaper than it was going to be in the beginning.

The SpotMini goes beyond what robots are known to do, and even some things dogs are known to do. The robot can easily climb stairs, walk around autonomously, jump over logs, and walk over obstacles. Those are all fairly basic skills, but still astonishing for an electric being. Rolling over, opening nearby doors, as well as putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher are all talents this dog-like robot has acquired (TechCrunch interviewed the CEO of the company and recorded the whole performance, including the dog’s- the dog appears at 7:38). These tasks can be performed for 90 minutes on a single charge, as explained by TechCrunch.

Now, unfortunately, this robotic version of a dog could never replace our beloved four-legged friends. A dog’s compassion, loyalty, personality, and love are hard to compete with, and a robot won’t be able to take over these emotions anytime soon. A robot being can’t express feelings or emotions- it’s just following the guidelines of it programming. Given this, the robot can’t display a clear personality, as most dogs do. Along with this, the robotic, dog-like creature requires constant charge, as demonstrated in TechCrunch. This significantly increases the cost of an electric bill.

However, robotic-dogs have their own advantages, and can open someone’s eyes up to endless possibilities. To start off, the SpotMini proved to the world that it can physically act  like a dog. Running alongside a human for a morning walk or keeping the owner company are things this “dog” can completely do, just like a regular dog. However, this owner doesn’t need to waste time to go get dog food, or wake up early to provide their dog with food and water. It would also reduce some chores the children have, such as picking up the dogs droppings in the backyard, or bathing all the muddy substance off their dog’s back.

This is a huge leap to take, but Boston Dynamics believes it’s time for society to take it. The SpotMini is almost complete and will be roaming the halls of offices and homes in no time at all! The future brings so many opportunities, one of these being the almighty robotic dog.