Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Gets A Price Tag: $75 Grand

One of Spot’s features is the ability to navigate real-world environments. This has not historically been a strong point for robots.

Not long ago, Boston Dynamics’ Spot finally went on sale, meaning the dog-like robot can now be purchased online. Previously it was available only to be leased by early adopters willing to pay to see what the robot had to offer. Pricing was tucked behind an NDA, and Spot could be only leased and not actually purchased — until now.

From a hobbyist’s perspective, Spot’s price is of course eye-watering; the cost of the accessories even more so. It would be perfectly understandable to ask what good is a robotic dog and what makes it worth such a cost?

From an industrial equipment point of view, the cost is perhaps less shocking. Maybe it’s a reminder that from an industrial and commercial perspective, the price of a thing matters mainly in relation to what kind of benefits it can bring, and what kind of price or savings can be hung on that.

Hackers being hackers and free from having to worry about such things, some choose to make their own four-legged robot pals with no winning lotto tickets, juicy grants, or enormous R&D budgets needed.

65 thoughts on “Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot Gets A Price Tag: $75 Grand

  1. Ok I have to admit that price was lower than I was expecting.

    Maybe they are discovering the market is limited and now need to just move product to increase interest

    1. “Maybe they are discovering the market is limited and now need to just move product to increase interest”

      Methinks they should get Bertha Benz to take it for a test drive!

    1. There’s a v2.0 SDK on GitHub, so that’s something. They’re very CYA about their liability if you do accidents or injuries (WEIRDLY DOESN’T MENTION CRIMES). But doesn’t seem like they’re holding too much back. Is there a budget to raise the funds to buy one and tear it down?

  2. The cost seems a lot but I have a retired military working dog and it was suggested to me that the total cost of producing and operating one of those dogos is higher than the cost of a Spot robot. In the light of that and assuming the police dogs are similarly valuable you could make an argument for having a spot in the back of each police vehicle for dealing with situations that would otherwise place the officer’s life in danger, and therefore also the life of the person they were dealing with. i.e. deploying Spot could save a lot of lives, the only question is what are the most effective accessories to equip it with in that situation? Some may suggest a net thrower, others a reefer dispenser, perhaps even both…

    1. You could make the argument that a real military or police dog is more valuable than a bare robotic platform. When those bots come with a sensitive nose, great hearing, or decent vision, that might change.

    2. Maybe it would be close to a real dog if they get full voice control over it. Good luck telling Spot to help you undo a belt, get your keys, open a door etc. all simple things a real dog can do.

      1. Spot can open doors etc., but that is not the point, the real value is in the fact that Spot can deal with a suspect without a real dog or a human life being put at risk and that makes the police less likely to shoot first and ask questions later.

  3. A bit pricey, isn’t it? A color camera fo 21kUSD? The same one with some rc gimbal for 30k? At least one zero too much for these options…

    Still a cool machine. If I had time and some money, I’d copy it…

    1. I’d imagine the stabilisation on the cameras makes your average gimbal look like a raver on acid.
      They’re also going to be durable against knocks, liquid, gas, etc.
      But yeah, still pricy. Unless the alternative is six-figure settlements for workers exposed to dangerous chemicals/radiation/etc.

      1. For 21k you get a camera with transmitter and some hardened box over it for protection. For 30k you can pan, tilt and zoom it remotely. Robot in itself is doing all the stabilization you need. For about 2-2,5k you can get something like CineDrive motion control rig for your camera. There are also robotic bases that work with it either on track or without one, that can be used for some crazy tracking shots. FilmRiot used such a setup for “Frozen in time” effect. So yes, 21k for camera, and 30k for camera with some remote pan and tilt is rather very expensive…

        1. We have one stomping round our office. Has the camera package and co processor. Tbh I kinda expected better really. Collision avoidance is great but it’s video output when moving is a bit clunky. I feel like you’d want to move it. Stop it. Sense stuff. Then move again. Body positioning when stationary is amazing. Super compliant when you lean it or load it up. Very nicely built. Gimbal would be interesting but not sure it’d clean up the vertical movement when it’s walking or trotting. Camera or payload on the creepy arm manipulator thing might be cool. Chicken gimbal style. Drops to the floor with a bang when you hit the estop :p

  4. Nearly 30 comments deep, and nobody mentioned Black Mirror? Amid massive social and political turmoil in the US that is ripe to create a situation where these could be weaponized by the right bidder? Frankly, I’m impressed.

        1. I think that was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 5 episode 22 when they use the Buffybot (Made for Spike as a platonic companion obviously) in the attack on Glory.

    1. I can see some one coming up with a modern take on the Soviet anti tank dog with it.
      75K is expensive for a person but cheap for a military especially if it disables a 4 million dollar tank.

    2. They are very clear with their “don’t let spot ‘accidentally’ hurt you” bit, that they are very aware people are going to use these to inflict injury.

  5. I would rather have the old model with the 2-cycle gas engine you could hear coming from 2miles away. I loved hearing the whine while marveling at the “natural” gait of those first attempts at a military companion to carry gear.

  6. How long till they end up like Willow Garage? They burned bridges during their lock-changing antics with Google execs, it’s only a matter of time before they tick off their new handlers when they can’t push product.

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