Post-apocalyptic films and TV shows where robots run amok are not a new phenomenon. And Black Mirror season 4 choose to follow this trope for Metalhead – an episode in which robot dogs are hunting human survivors, in a 41 minute thriller shot entirely in black and white.
Speaking about what inspired the episode, Charlie Brooker told Entertainment Weekly: “It was from watching Boston Dynamics videos, but crossed with — have you seen the film All Is Lost?
“I wanted to do a story where there was almost no dialogue.
“And with those videos, there’s something very creepy watching them where they get knocked over, and they look sort of pathetic laying there, but then they slowly manage to get back up.”
Now, following years of development, Boston Dynamics’ four-legged “dog” – which influenced the ruthless robots featured in the Black Mirror episode Metalhead – is finally available for sale.
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The mechanical dog Spot will retail for $74,500 (£50,000) and comes with certain restrictions regarding when and where it can be deployed.
Boston Dynamics has revealed all sales will be subject to terms and conditions dictate the “beneficial use” of its robots.
Marc Raibert, chairman and founder of Boston Dynamics, said: “The combination of Spot’s sophisticated software and high performance mechanical design enables the robot to augment difficult or dangerous human work.
“Now you can use Spot to increase human safety in environments and tasks where traditional automation hasn’t been successful.”
The tech company’s vice president of business development, Michael Perry told The Verge Boston Dynamisc will not support uses of Spot that “harm or intimidate” people.
This categorically includes banning the attachment of weapons to the four-legged robo-canine.
However, as with all technology, there is no guarantee the Spot will never be used for purposes outside of Boston Dynamics’ intentions post-purchase.
Spot has already raised some onlookers’ concerns for being deployed by police.
Last year documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union, confirmed Spot has been involved in multiple police “incidents” though the full details of those cases is not yet clear.
Boston Dynamics’ Spot dog statistics:
Spot weighs 25kg (55 lb), or 30kg (66 lb) when its robotic arm is attached.
SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what tasks it is doing.
Boston Dynamics has built Spot to access areas wheeled robots cannot, while carrying payloads with endurance far beyond aerial drones.
With 360 degree vision and obstacle avoidance, the robot can be driven remotely or taught routes and actions to perform autonomous missions.
Developers can create custom methods of controlling Spot, program autonomous missions, design payloads to expand the robot’s capabilities, and integrate sensor information into data analysis tools.
Spot’s mounting rails, payload ports, and software development kit give customers the tools they need to customise the robot for their application.
By integrating Spot with software and sensors, the robot can perform tasks in a variety of industries.
These range from documenting construction progress to monitoring remote environments, adding situational awareness and even performing.