Boston Dynamics is not the only company that manufactures futuristic four-legged robots. The Chinese company Unitree Robotics has also been at it for years, and this week unveiled its latest creation: Unitree Go1, a robust-looking four-legged bot that is remarkably cheap with prices starting at just $ 2,700. (By comparison, Boston Dynamics’ Spot Robot costs $ 74,500.)
What is Go1 to, though? A demo video shows it being used for such useful tasks as “following someone on the run” and “carrying a single bottle of water.” Sure, it’s not practical to have a robot butler for your phone and wallet, but it does make a statement one evening.
More realistically, the robotics industry is still exploring the best applications for this kind of machines. For example, Spot is currently being tested in areas such as industrial inspection and police investigation (with mixed results). However, Unitree says it wants to make four-legged robots as affordable and popular as smartphones and drones. So a fun demo wheel that shows Go1
The company only has a basic specification sheet for the robot on its website, but here’s what we know. Go1 comes in three versions: $ 2,700 Go1 Air, $ 3,500 Go1 and $ 8,500 Go1 Edu. Each weighs approx. 12 kg (26 pounds), and the more expensive models come with more processing power and sensors (Go1 Edu is the only version with an unspecified programming API). It seems that automatic person tracking and obstacle prevention come as standard, even though only the more expensive models hit the advertised top speed of 17 km / h. Unitree also does not say anything about the battery life. Although since Spot only has enough juice for 90 minutes of operation, we would say that the “all day companion” mode suggested by the Go1 demo video is a bit of an artificial exaggeration.
In any case, technology like this shows that four-legged robots are rapidly turning from news to goods. The real question is: can they also be useful, or will they just carry our water for years to come.