Robot maker Boston Dynamics is finally taking Spot off the leash.
The Waltham company on Tuesday announced that its four-legged robot is now available for purchase for commercial and industrial use, at a base price of $74,500. Spot is the first commercial offering from Boston Dynamics, which was founded in 1992 and has spent much of its life building software and robots for the US military.
A bright yellow robot that resembles a medium-size dog, Spot was unveiled in 2015, and Boston Dynamics has shown off its surprising agility in a series of popular YouTube videos, showing it dancing to pop music or herding sheep on a ranch in New Zealand, for example.
Its four legs enable it to climb stairs or traverse terrain that would be difficult or impossible for wheeled or tracked robots. Spot can also carry payloads of up to 30 pounds, such as cameras or a robotic arm for grabbing nearby objects. The robot can be remotely controlled, or programmed to perform some functions on its own ― patrolling the outside of a building, for instance.
Last year, Spot began proving itself in the real world, when Boston Dynamics leased the machines to selected businesses and researchers. About 150 units were put to work in a variety of tasks, including at power plants and construction sites. During the pandemic, Brigham and Women’s Hospital tested a Spot robot equipped with microphones and an iPad as a way to remotely interview patients who may be infected with COVID-19.
But customers can now take full ownership of the machines, although Boston Dynamics notes that Spot is “intended for commercial and industrial use.” Machines can be customized with an array of accessories: a 360-degree camera system, a laser-based navigation system, and advanced onboard computers.
The accessories don’t come cheap; for instance, a combination laser and camera package adds $34,570. And for customers seeking a little extra assurance, there’s an optional extended warranty for $15,000.
For now, Spot is available for purchase only in the United States. Interested foreign companies can only lease the machines. The company is also offering a version of Spot for academic researchers, but hasn’t revealed its price.
Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.