Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has taken a robotic dog for a walk at a secretive conference in California.
The 54-year-old has been pictured strutting alongside Boston Dynamics’ four-legged SpotMini robot, which has previously been compared to killer canine bots featured in the Netflix series Black Mirror.
Bezos, who is worth a reported £92 billion ($130 billion), posted the photo to his Twitter account on Monday with the caption: ‘Taking my new dog for a walk.’
He is currently attending Amazon’s ‘Mars’ conference in Palm Springs – an invite-only gathering of robotics companies and academics that focuses on machine learning, automation, robotics and space exploration.
SpotMini, created by Massachusetts engineering firm Boston Dynamics, is the most advanced robot dog ever created.
The canine can trot around, hold objects using an attachable arm, and even open doors by itself.
First unveiled in last year, SpotMini is one of a number of robots on display at the Mars event, which is being hosted at California’s high-end Parker Hotel.
In a video captured at the conference, Bezos is shown playing the ‘bottle flipping’ game with an arm-like robot.
Another clip shows a SpotMini robodog walking across a strip of grass while two barrel-like automatons follow it around.
The robot has become popular on the internet after unsettling videos emerged last month of it opening a door.
WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT MINI ROBO-DOG?
Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.
The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.
The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.
‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.
It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.
SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’
SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house.
In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.
There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.
It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up.
‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.
‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs.
‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’
Some viewers tweeted their fear that the robot would end all humans.
One commentator wrote on YouTube: ‘Doors can no longer stop them, we’re doomed.’
Others noted it looked eerily similar to the bots featured in an episode of sci-fi series Black Mirror, where mechanised canines hunt humans in a post-apocalyptic future.
Shortly after the door-opening SpotMini clip surfaced, Boston Dynamics uploaded a second video of the robot completing the same task while it was harassed by one of the firm’s employees.
In a minute-long video, titled ‘Testing Robustness’, a human can be seen armed with a hockey stick.
The man attempts to stop SpotMini from opening a door, first with the stick, pushing a new arm attachment away from the door.
When that doesn’t work, he closes the door against the robot to prevent it from opening it.
SpotMini persists, so the employee pulls the robot from behind and drags it backward. This results in a small piece of its back breaking off.
Black Mirror explores what could happen if machines like this turn on us, in an episode titled Metalhead from the fourth season of the Netflix series.
It depicts a terrifying quest for survival in a world where robo-dogs can outrun and outsmart humans.
The episode came about ‘from watching Boston Dynamics videos’, but crossed with the film All Is Lost, creator Charlie Brooker told EW.
‘And with those videos, there’s something very creepy watching them where they get knocked over, and they look sort of pathetic laying there, but then they slowly manage to get back up.’