Robotic technology is advancing by leaps and bounds. But the ultimate in robotic technology today undoubtedly comes from Boston Dynamics, a spin-off from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (previously owned by Google; now owned by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank). The company has a variety of robots with two legs, four legs, and wheels. These robots seem to be able to do nearly anything. They can run, leap, fly, walk, and climb buildings.
The newest robot is SpotMini and it has the ability to open doors. While that might sound pretty simple, it is actually a very complicated robotic task. And, in a recent video highlighting SpotMini, having a human wielding a hockey stick makes opening a door even more complicated! (Spoiler Alert: Spot eventually gets the door open.)
In this case, the robot does almost all the moves autonomously. A human handler drove the robot to the door, then commanded it to open the door. The robot was able to automatically correct for the forces of hockey stick and tail-pulling. While Spot has very limited abilities, robotics are entering into areas such as security, food delivery, as well as answering questions and interacting with humans in public places.
Before you worry about robots taking over the world though, remember that they are designed to help humans. Even if we shove them with hockey sticks.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
- Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com,
- Show the latest video of SpotMini opening doors: https://youtu.be/aFuA50H9uek
- Other videos are on Boston Dynamics’ YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ
- Make sure to watch Atlas do a back flip! https://youtu.be/fRj34o4hN4I
- Using Boston Dynamics, illustrate the concepts of products, product lines, and product mix.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team come up with an example of other companies and state the products, product line, and product mix.
Source: Simon, M. (20 Feb. 2018). Watch a human try to fight off that door-opening robot dog. Wired.