Boston Dynamics' robot dog that opens doors is freaking out the internet

Key Points
  • Boston Dynamics' door-opening SpotMini was the No. 1 video on YouTube on Tuesday.
  • The first demonstration of a dog-like robot opening a door has left some people feeling unsettled.
Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot has a new trick: it can now open doors

Robotics firm Boston Dynamics has released another video on the internet that is prompting talk of a robot apocalypse and comparisons with dystopian science fiction.

The Softbank-owned company debuted the video on its popular YouTube channel on Monday, and as of Tuesday afternoon it is the No. 1 trending video on YouTube, with more than 2,448,955 views. This is the first time the company has publicly demonstrated its SpotMini robot opening a door.

Many reactions on both social media and among media outlets combine awe with dark humor characterized by discomfort or anxiety. More than a few are alluding to science fiction stories, particularly the "Metalhead" episode of the BBC show "Black Mirror," a show composed of vignettes that depict haunting worlds shaped by familiar technologies.

Boston Dynamics was not available for comment.


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Thomas Rid

The robot is just over 2½ feet tall and weighs about 66 pounds. It comes with an onboard 3-D vision system that helps it "see" and it has 17 joints, according to the Boston Dynamics website.

"SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home," the site says.

It can operate for 90 minutes on a single charge and is the quietest robot the company has built.

And it walks like a four-legged animal. And it opens doors.