Boston Dynamics reveals robot dog SpotMini that can open doors

A new video released by Boston Dynamics on Monday, shows that the company's flagship robot, the SpotMini, has crossed a new threshold, demonstrating that it can open doors.

SpotMini, a four-legged yellow machine, about a metre high, can be seen in the video confused by a closed door, but a second robot of the same type, but with a fifth limb extending from its back, arrives and turns the handle. It opens the door open, holds it for the first to walk through before following it.

SpotMini is a miniaturised version of the robot that gave Boston Dynamics its fame - BigDog, a robotic pack-horse originally designed for the US army. But the military rejected the machine on the grounds that it  was too noisy.

''As marines were using it, there was the challenge of seeing the potential possibility because of the limitations of the robot itself,'' a spokesman for the US marine said at the time. ''They took it as it was: a loud robot that's going to give away their position.''

Technology columnist April Glaser said in an article in The Slate, that the robot was an incredible piece of machinery. Its movements show a level of dynamism and coordination between its body and software that she had not seen before. She found it  impressive that the robot was not just agile enough to grab a door handle without either missing it by knocking on the door or grabbing the air, it also had enough strength to pull it open and leverage its own weight to keep it open.

According to Glaser, Spot knew where exactly to place its claw and subsequently its foot to pull the door, which demonstrated a keen understanding of what its body is capable of, which most robots cannot.