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What’s the story behind the GIF of a nightmarish robot dog opening a door?

A man’s best friend, or fiend?

The robot dog we first saw stacking plates in a dishwasher has now graduated from its servitude to opening doors for itself and another robotic mate – excitingly, they’re probably now planning how this new skill fits into the destruction of the human race. See into our cold, metallic, dead future by watching the above gif again and again.

The Boston Dynamics SpotMini can be seen opening the door with an extendable hydraulic arm and clamp in the short video. Past video clips show their other creations, like the BigDog made for the U.S military, performing simple tasks. A marked difference here is the almost-intelligent way the SpotMini deciphers the door’s location, zones in on the handle and, quite politely, holds the door while maintaining its balance. All these small abilities seem to reflect a pretty advanced autonomous system.

It’s quite unlike the group’s Atlas robot, a more humanoid machine that barreled around quite clumsily in a video from 2016. This is the second SpotMini version Boston Dynamics has shown to the public since 2016 – it’s been made a lot cuter with a new, bright yellow paint job. 

Other versions of the SpotMini have been shown crushing cans, doing backflips and running at an unsettling speed in previous clips. One from last year shows the machine slip on a pile of banana peels – a vital clue that may be helpful in the near future when we’re fighting them off. Aside from robo-dogs, there’s also a bird-like creature called Cassie and the Wildcat. 

The tech company, based in Massachusetts, has been developing robots that run and move like animals since 1992. “We pride ourselves in building machines that both break boundaries and work in the real world,” the company’s site reads. Break boundaries, break puny human necks, what’s next?

This kind of tech, with more considered AI, could potentially help disabled or elderly people in their homes. Nevertheless – and not to sound too like Elon Musk – any autonomous machines that could be utilised as weapons are cause for a little concern. The video of Boston Dynamics’ researchers basically bullying its Atlas creation – pushing it over as it tried to pick up a box – to test its resilience might be the trigger for the upcoming robo-apocalypse. 

The ultimate question though is this: all dogs are good boys, but are these creepy as fuck robo-dogs acceptable in the good boy category?