Christmas Greetings featuring Google’s Boston Dynamics robots have been shared on YouTube yesterday, December 22, and have left some viewers rather perturbed.
The dystopian footage shows a young woman dressed as Santa, riding a sleigh pulled by 3 robots wearing reindeer antlers.
The group is shown crossing a field of grass, with the 4-legged robotic animals prancing around, as if they were following the rhythm of “Jingle Bells”, heard playing in the background.
Obviously, the footage is meant to feature Boston Dynamics’ most recent technological achievements, namely the Spot quadrupedal robot.
Back in 2005, the robotics design company unveiled Big Dog, a mechanical pack mule, created in order to assist soldiers by carrying provisions across rugged terrain.
The robot, developed thanks to funding received from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), was praised for its technical specs, including the ability to travel at speeds of around 4 miles per hour, while transporting loads of up to 340 pounds on surfaces with inclinations of up to 35 degrees.
Spot, which was first presented back in February, is Boston Dynamics’ latest invention, coming on the heels of other robots such as Cheetah, Little Dog, RiSE, SandFlea, PETMAN, LS3, Atlas and RHex.
The electrically-operated quadruped produced by the Google-owned company weighs around 160 pounds, being much smaller than other products from its line, except for LittleDog.
Also, its movements are much more fluid and swift than those of its predecessors, being slightly reminiscent of those made by a goat.
The robot, which can find its way through its surroundings thanks to LIDAR sensors, can effectively climb stairs, gallop at surprising speeds and mount steep hills, keeping its balance with ease.
Now, it appears Spot can even pull a Christmas sleigh, almost as graciously and elegantly as a reindeer. While this feat of technology is obviously nothing short of remarkable, some YouTube viewers have admitted they felt quite unsettled at the sight of robots taking over this traditional Christmas imagery.
However, some have pointed out that the festive video could have been even more disturbingly futuristic, by replacing the human Santa with Atlas, Boston Dynamics’ agile anthropomorphic robot.
The 6-foot tall android can skillfully perform complex tasks, its articulated hands allowing it to effectively manipulate tools.
Also, the incredible strength of its upper limbs enables it to carry heavy cargo, while its powerful legs render it undefeatable, even while crossing bumpy terrain.
One of its presentation videos has actually shown the bipedal robot strolling through the woods, successfully avoiding trees and even jogging without missing a beat.
Therefore, it may not be long before Atlas does indeed take the reins and gives out a hearty “Ho Ho Ho” in one of Boston Dynamics’ future holiday greetings.
Image Source: TVNZ