Since the days of BigDog, the quadrupedal robots of Boston Dynamics have impressed and repelled us. But while the early, bulky robots never felt like something we’d see in real life, the company’s latest and greatest creation, Spot, is not only quite real, but now for sale — in fact, some people have had them for months already.
自从 BigDog 问世以来，来自波士顿动力公司（Boston Dynamics）的四足机器人就给我们留下了深刻的印象。不过，该公司早期那些体型笨重的机器人让我们感觉距离现实生活还有点遥远。尽管如此，作为波士顿动力的最新杰作，Spot 不仅让人感觉非常真实，而且现在已经正式发售了——事实上，一些人已经试用了几个月的时间。
Boston Dynamics announced on our stage at TC Sessions: Robotics last year that Spot, previously known as SpotMini, would be its first commercial product — and we got the first peek at the production version at this year’s conference in May. It’s an incredibly impressive and flexible robotics platform capable of navigating a variety of environments and interacting with many everyday objects and obstacles. And while today is the first day of official sales, there are already robots out there in use.
“We’re putting Spots out into the wild as we speak,” Boston Dynamics VP of business development Michael Perry told TechCrunch. “Last month we started delivering robots to customers, as part of an early adopter program. The question we’re posing to these early customers is ‘what do you think spot can do for you that’s valuable?’ We had some initial ideas, but it’s all our thinking and the hope is that this program will enable a whole new set of use cases.”
“在我们说话的时候，我们已经把 Spot 推到了外面。” 波士顿动力的业务发展副总裁迈克尔·佩里（Michael Perry）告诉 TechCrunch，“作为一个早期采用者计划的组成部分，我们从上个月开始向客户交付机器人。我们向这些早期客户提出的问题是，‘你认为 Spot 能够做些什么有价值的事？’。我们已经有了一些初步的想法，但那都是我们自己的所思所想。我们希望，这个计划能够开辟出一套全新的用例。”
The early adopter program is lease-based rather than a straight purchase, but there’s no shortage of customers who want to own their Spot outright. The cost of one of the robots varies, but think tens of thousands of dollars — this isn’t a hobby bot.
早期采用者计划建立在租赁的基础上，并不要求客户进行购买，但想要掏钱购买 Spot 的客户不在少数。这些机器人的成本各不相同，但都高达数万美元，并不是让你拿来当兴趣爱好的。
“The general guidance is that the entire early adopter program is going to be about the price of a car, but how nice of a car depends on a lot,” said Perry.
Some people might want a bare-bones platform onto which they can integrate their own sensing and interaction tech. Others might want a fully functional robot they can plug into their existing automation workflow.
But either way, it will take some work on the part of the customer. Spot isn’t going to inspect that oil pipeline or patrol a facility with the push of a button. It’s a powerful, flexible legged robot platform, but Boston Dynamics isn’t running a turn-key service.
但不管怎样，使用 Spot 将需要客户自己费些气力，你是无法按下一个按钮就让它去检查输油管道或是巡视设施的。Spot 是一个功能强大且腿脚灵活的机器人平台，但波士顿动力带给你的并不是什么全方位服务。
“We’re now at a phase where we don’t have to send out 12 engineers with the robot,” said Perry. “Say a customer wants to operate it close to people — it needs to detect people and change its behavior. That’s totally possible. We can actually leave it with them, give them access to our GitHub repo, and say ‘have at it.’ But if someone says they just want it built into the robot… We want people to have realistic expectations about what it can do.”
在现在这个阶段，我们在交付机器人时已经不必再派驻 12 位工程师了。” 佩里说，“假设有客户希望让 Spot 在人类周围工作，它就需要能够检测到人的存在并改变自己的行为模式。这是完全有可能做到的，我们可以把机器人留给客户，向他们提供访问我们 GitHub 项目库的权限，然后说 ‘开始做吧’。但如果有人说，他们只是想把它集成到现有的机器人……对于它能够做什么，我们希望人们拥有现实的期待。”
That said, you don’t need to present a whole whitepaper on your intentions. A lot of companies just want to buy a couple of these guys to play around with and test. If you’re one of those, or perhaps a smaller operation with more specific goals in mind, get in touch with Boston Dynamics and its sales team via the link here.
“We have a deluge of people emailing us,” he lamented. “Some are legitimate applications, but some just want Spot as a pet, or to get them a beer from the fridge. It would be thrilling to accommodate them, but we’re not quite there yet.”
“很多很多的人给我们发来了电子邮件。” 他感叹道，“有些是合理的应用，但也有一些人只是想把 Spot 当成宠物，或是让它从冰箱取来啤酒。满足这些人的需求将非常令人兴奋，但我们目前还做不到。”
No word on when you’ll be able to buy an Atlas.