Watch The Boston Dynamics Robot Dog Fight Back Against A Human

One week ago, the world watched mesmerized as Boston Dynamics' robotic dog, Spot Mini, showed off its brand new skill: entering a room after opening a door on its own by using a claw attached to its head. The video prompted an avalanche of dystopian humor.

Now, for its latest trick, the Boston Dynamics’ door-opening robot dog can also fight off humans to fulfill its simple door opening prerogative.

On Tuesday, the company published a new video that shows SpotMini successfully opening a door and walking through it, despite the best efforts of a man armed with a hockey stick trying to impede the robot.

In the clip, a human "armed" with a hockey stick does everything in his power to stop the robot from opening the door, including tugging on the machine, which struggles in what Wired called "an unsettling manner." But the ambush doesn’t work. The dogbot wins and gets through the door anyway.

As Wired notes, however, the most subtle detail here is also the most impressive: The robot is doing almost all of this autonomously. Since Boston Dynamics is a notoriously tight-lipped company, the few sentences it provided with this clip is a relative gold mine. It describes how a human handler drove the bot up to the door, then commanded it to proceed. The rest you can see for yourself. As SpotMini grips the handle and the human tries to shut the door, it braces itself and tugs harder—all on its own. As the human grabs a tether on its back and pulls it back violently, the robot stammers and wobbles and breaks free—still, of its own algorithmic volition.

The bottom line is that this simple robot can correct for extreme forces, effectively nullifying an aggressive human presence, all the while handling a relatively precise task. This is precisely the desired outcome: after all Boston Dynamics is, as it says in the title of the video, “testing robustness" and "SpotMini's ability to adjust to disturbances."

Like last week's clip that shows SpotMini engaging in the now far simpler task of merely opening a door and holding it open to allow a robot with no arms through, it has provoked plenty of discussion from viewers online.


SpotMini, the quietest robot Boston Dynamics has built, comes equipped with stereo cameras, depth cameras and force sensors in its limbs, and can carry up to 14kg of weight, according to the Independent.

“A camera in the hand finds the door handle, cameras on the body determine if the door is open or closed and navigate through the doorway,” says Boston Dynamics, which also offers its assurances that the test did not “irritate or harm” SpotMini.

“Software provides locomotion, balance and adjusts behavior when progress gets off track. The ability to tolerate and respond automatically to disturbances like these improves successful operation of the robot.”


virgule Killtruck Wed, 02/21/2018 - 23:02 Permalink

This video is less impressive than the first one (just opening the door). Once a machine is programmed to do something, and incorporates feedback systems to adjust it's behavior and motion, there is no reason for it to stop *trying* even when something interferes. It's not "fighting a human", it is simply "continuing to do its programmed task".

Nothing unexpected there.

In reply to by Killtruck

nidaar virgule Thu, 02/22/2018 - 02:11 Permalink

That robodog is developed based on reinforcement learning, an unsupervised neural network training technique. If the human continues to get in the way from going through the door enough times, eventually it will hurt the human accidentally and be able to get through. At which point it would "learn" to try the same to reach its goal (technically speaking maximize the value of its reward function).

Rest assured it has already happened in a different experiment to another copy. 

In reply to by virgule

E5 Dolar in a vortex Wed, 02/21/2018 - 20:56 Permalink

Or employee get fired and retaliate with a subroutine outside their control.


We can only hope that it is limited to killing the Boston Dynamics employees... and then the bank that takes it over in receivership... then the federal government employees that take receivership after the bank is killed.... and then the citizens who own the government who are all dead....

In reply to by Dolar in a vortex

Oldguy05 claytonmoore50 Wed, 02/21/2018 - 21:47 Permalink

No. Sandy. It was lucky though. I was a lineman at the time. I got a radio call from dispatch telling me my wife was freaking out and my dog was dead in the road. I drove home and when I pulled up the dog heard my truck, woke up and wagged it's broken tail. Cost me 3 grand to keep that 6 month old dog alive. She lived for 16 years. Best investment I ever made.

In reply to by claytonmoore50

zorba THE GREEK Agent P Wed, 02/21/2018 - 22:57 Permalink

What do you came a Mexican woman with no legs?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ......Consuelo

In reply to by Agent P