Despite Boston Dynamics’ best efforts to position its Spot as a helpful, multi-skilled human companion, it has given the impression of an upcoming era of robot takeovers,media reported. But is that really the case? According to Spot test documents obtained by OneZero from the Massachusetts State Police, the robot may have problems in the real world or not work fully.
The test, which began in August 2019 and lasts 90 days, is mainly used by the Massachusetts State Police’s bomb squad. The documents show that Spot suffered an unprovoked fall while on duty with the bomb squad, was frightened by the high grass, and entered “sit down” mode when instructed to approach the suspicious briefcase.
Contrary to popular belief, Boston-powered robots are not powered by artificial intelligence. Many of its mechanical commands are activated and guided by the operator. This means that when the robot is unable to perform the operations that the operator wants, this often involves a lot of troubleshooting and manual intervention.
Of course, that doesn’t mean the robot is a failed work. Throughout the trial, Massachusetts State Police treated spot-related problems with it so minor that even if Spot initially failed to make its way toward a suspicious briefcase, it was able to conduct proper reconnaissance and capture video footage — despite the poor quality of the footage, OneZero reported.
Spot’s early performance in such real-life scenarios is just further evidence that these robots are far from capturing the world, let alone large-scale human work. In many cases, Spot bots increase the workload of existing people while providing a useful way to capture video and collect data in sensitive or dangerous environments.