Boston Dynamics debuts the production version of SpotMini

Last year at our TC Sessions: Robotics conference, Boston Dynamics announced that SpotMini will be its first commercially available product. A revamped version of the product would use the company’s decades of quadrupedal robotics learnings as a basis for a robot designed to patrol office spaces.

At today’s event, founder and CEO Marc Raibert took to the stage to debut the production version of the electric robot. As noted last year, the company plans to produce around 100 models this year. Raibert said that the company is aiming to start production in July or August. There are robots coming off the assembly line now, but they are betas being used for testing, and the company is still doing redesigns. Pricing details will be announced this summer.

New things about the SpotMini as it moves closer to production include redesigned components to make it more reliable, skins that work better to protect the robot if it falls and two sets of cameras on the front and one on each side and the back, so it can see in all directions.

The SpotMini also has an arm (with a hand that’s often mistaken for its head) that is stabilized in space, so it stays in the same place even when the rest of the robot moves, making it more flexible for different applications.

Raibert says he hopes the SpotMini becomes the “Android of robots” (or Android of androids), with navigation software and developers eventually writing apps that can run in and interact with the controls on the robot.

SpotMini is the first commercial robot Boston Dynamics is set to release, but as we learned earlier year, it certainly won’t be the last. The company is looking to its wheeled Handle robot in an effort to push into the logistics space. It’s a super hot category for robotics right now. Notably, Amazon recently acquired Colorado-based start up Canvas to add to it sown arm of fulfillment center robots.

Boston Dynamics made its own acquisition earlier this month — a first for the company. The addition of Kinema will bring advanced vision systems to the company’s robots — a key part in implementing these sorts of systems in the field.

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Netflix to open a production hub in New York and invest up to $100 million in the city

Start spreading the news. Netflix is coming to New York City in a big way.

The streaming media service has committed to invest up to $100 million to build a production hub and hire hundreds of new staffers in the Big Apple, according to a statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Netflix’s new production hub will include an expanded Manhattan office and six sound stages in Brooklyn that could bring in hundreds of executive positions and thousands of production crew jobs to New York within the next five years, according to a statement from the Empire State Development Corp. 

“New York has created a film-friendly environment that’s home to some of the best creative and executive talent in the world, and we’re excited to provide a place for them at Netflix with our production hub,” said Jason Hariton, Director of Worldwide Studio Operations & Real Estate at Netflix, in a statement.

The new corporate offices Netflix has planned will occupy 100,000 square feet in Manhattan at 888 Broadway, housing 127 new executive content acquisition, development, production, legal, publicity and marketing positions. They’ll join the 32 employees Netflix currently has in New York.

Netflix already produces Orange is the New Black, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, She’s Gotta Have It, The Irishman, Someone Great, Private Life and Russian Doll in New York and has leased 161,000 square feet to build sound stages and support spaces in Brooklyn’s East Williamsburg neighborhood.

To sweeten the pot for Netflix, the Empire State Development Corp. has offered $4 million in performance-based Excelsior Tax Credits over ten years, which the corporation says are tied to real job creation. To receive the incentive, Netflix must create 127 jobs by 2024 at its executive production office and retain those jobs for another five years.

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