I feel your pain, Anderson Cooper. I feel your pain. I too have been trying to get into Boston Dynamics’ headquarters for years, but to no avail. Certainly Boston Dynamics must have lost my phone number, which is why it reached out to you and 60 Minutes.
If you missed it, Cooper and 60 Minutes got an exclusive look inside Boston Dynamics’ headquarters in Waltham, Mass. The segment aired last night. You can watch the entire segment in the video atop this page. Even if you’re in the robotics industry and familiar with Boston Dynamics, it’s still an interesting watch.
Cooper talked to founder and chairman Marc Raibert, CEO Robert Playter and others about the history of the company, the inspiration behind its work, and what the future holds for robotics. There’s also footage, which I’ve never seen before, of a younger Raibert testing some of his earliest legged robots from the 1980s. The piece also touches on Boston Dynamics’ perception system and how Atlas plans out its steps.
And, yes, the fear factor surrounding the company’s robots was also discussed. “The rogue robot story is a powerful story, and it’s been told for 100 years,” said Playter. “But it’s fiction. Robots don’t have agency, they don’t make up their own minds about what their tasks are. They operate within a narrow bound of their programming.”
“I think people to attribute to our robots much more than they should because they haven’t seen machines move like this before,” Playter added. “So they want to project intelligence and emotion onto that in ways that are fiction.”
60 Minutes also included bloopers of Atlas falling down and Spot struggling to grasp items with its new Spot Arm. It also teased Stretch, the mobile manipulator Boston Dynamics revealed today that is designed for truck unloading and palletizing applications within warehouses.
So, no hard feelings Boston Dynamics about losing my contact information. It happens. But you can email me here to set up a time to tour the facility. I’m local, I live in Western Massachusetts, and am happy to come by any time.