Published on November 8, 2023, 4:12 pm

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot, known for its impressive agility, has now proven itself as a capable tour guide. The company’s engineers were curious about exploring the potential of generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT chatbot in combination with their robot dog. With this in mind, they created a tour guide using the technology and the results were quite remarkable.

In a video demonstration, Spot can be seen wearing a hat, plastic eyes, and fake eyebrows while opening and closing its robotic gripper as it interacts with viewers. The tour takes place within parts of Boston Dynamics’ facility in Massachusetts and offers an entertaining experience.

Matt Klingensmith, principal software engineer at Boston Dynamics, explains that they wanted to see how technologies like generative AI could be utilized for robotics. To prepare for the tour, the team provided Spot with a script specifying each room it was supposed to visit along with a brief description of each room’s purpose. Spot then combined this data with images from its built-in cameras and used a “visual question answering model” to gather more information about what it was seeing. This allowed it to provide more elaborate spoken responses.

One exciting aspect is how Spot can adopt different personalities upon instruction. From being a British butler guide at the start of the tour to showing off its sarcastic side later on, Spot’s ability to adapt is truly impressive. There’s even an astonishing Shakespearean actor personality.

Klingensmith highlights that Spot came up with some unexpected personalities during testing. It could incorporate its backstory into what it saw and reinterpret certain objects or scenes in unique ways. According to Klingensmith, some responses from Spot left him surprised. For example, when he asked Spot to show him its parents, the robot took him over to an early version of itself among Boston Dynamics’ display of robots.

The integration of AI offers possibilities beyond simply following commands. Klingensmith believes that robots can understand the actions they can take in the context of their environment, thanks to AI. This opens up avenues for applications that have yet to be imagined.

While human tour guides need not worry just yet, Klingensmith acknowledges that AI chatbots still struggle with making things up or experiencing “hallucinations.” This limitation makes it less suitable for environments like museums. Additionally, the software engineer notes that AI chatbots rely on a stable internet connection, which could affect performance if there are connectivity issues.

In other news, the recent passing of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts highlighted the mortality of legendary band members. In a hypothetical scenario where the band no longer had living members, holograms could potentially bring them back to the stage. However, opinions on this technology remain divided when it comes to preserving the memory of late musicians.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot continues to impress with its versatility and capabilities. Whether it serves as an entertaining tour guide or takes on warehouse work like its newest counterpart Stretch, these robots showcase the potential of advanced robotics and generative AI in various industries.


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