You’re likely familiar with Spot by now. That’s the robot/rover/drone developed by Boston Dynamics, a world leader in robotics. And the company has just released a pretty mind-blowing video to mark its recent majority acquisition by Hyundai Motor Group.
You really have to hand it to Boston Dynamics on a couple of counts. The first, of course, is that it’s got some amazing technology packed into its robotic devices. In fact, we wrote the other day about how Spot has been put to work autonomously exploring caves; a task that could eventually be put to use in the exploration for life on other planets, particularly Mars.
But the company has done something else remarkable. It has totally revamped its public image.
Not so long ago, Boston Dynamics was releasing very different videos from what we’ve seen over the last couple of years. These videos, usually demonstrating prototypes of various rover designs, were intended to highlight the technological capabilities of these machines. You’d see them clamber over obstacles, run up hills, jump over small hurdles, and more.
But, truth be told, a lot of people – while appreciating the technology – found some of these videos a bit disturbing. I mean, would you really want one of these things pursuing you? For some, that was the image that popped up:
As one YouTube commenter noted: “Okay, the noise and appearance makes this thing look like something out of a horror movie.”
There’s been a pretty radical shift in what the company releases now. And while we’re not privy to the interior workings at Boston Dynamics, it’s believed that some of the pivot toward a more embraceable public image is due to Michael Perry, a Mandarin-speaker with an exceptional marketing brain who was previously DJI’s managing director for North America. He joined Boston Dynamics in August of 2018, and the shift started to become visible not long after his arrival.
There was, for example, a collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, involving a performer interacting with a number of Spot rovers in a choreographed performance:
Kinder, friendlier robots
Regardless of who was responsible, it was the start of a brilliant marketing strategy. Boston Dynamic products began to be shown in a friendly, anthropomorphic way. The videos were fun to watch, didn’t spark nightmares, and yet still demonstrated the phenomenal technical capabilities of the devices. The company’s biggest hit was this video, currently at 32 million views and counting:
And the latest?
Well, with the aforementioned news about the company’s majority acquisition by Hyundai, it has released a celebratory video. And, yes, it’s pretty cool:
The shift in the public face of Boston Dynamics has been pretty dramatic and very successful. When you can pull together videos that not only entertain and demonstrate technical prowess – but also frequently go viral – you’re doing it right.
And those robots? Unreal.
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