Spot’s got the moves like Jagger in this Rolling Stones tribute video

spot rolling stones

Boy, this robo-dog dances and lip syncs so well that you’d think it could actually listen to the music! In the latest viral video by Boston Dynamics, Spot the robotic dog invokes its inner Mick Jagger while paying tribute to The Rolling Stones on the 40th anniversary of their 1981 album Tattoo You.

A quartet of Spot dogs move to “Start Me Up” in a side-by-side reel that also shows the original, iconic music video. While one of them mimics the Jagger chicken-head bob with uncanny precision, three other Spot robots re-create the moves of fellow band members Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Charlie Watts.

The sheer fluidity displayed by these robots is so amazing, it may even leave you a bit startled. But let’s not forget that hiding behind the curtain are hours of engineering effort and Monica Thomas’ choreography genius.

Getting quadruped robots to perform a dance routine is nothing like traditional choreography. For one, Spot has twice as many legs as Jagger & Co. And that, as Monica has explained in an earlier interview, can be more challenging than you may imagine:

When I try to replay the choreography on my own body, my knees bend the wrong way, even if I put myself on all fours.

Not that it shows in this video…

Spot has been on the dance floor quite a few times by now. In 2018, Spot strutted its stuff to “Uptown Funk.” Then, late last year Spot joined Atlas and Handle (two other Boston Dynamics robots) in a dance performance to the 1962 classic “Do You Love Me.” And, of course, there was a mind-blowing video earlier this year to mark Boston Dynamics’ majority acquisition by Hyundai.

The Boston Dynamics team has created tools to speed up the choreography process. The dance routines are now created in Choreographer, a Spot software module.

Interestingly, Choreographer is also being used by a handful of Boston Dynamics entertainment customers, such as sports teams and theme parks. The software features a graphical, drag-and-drop interface, which allows virtually anyone (tech background or not) to program a dance routine into Spot.

And all that is fine. But what’s the purpose of programming a robotic dog to shake its tail feather?

We’ll let Marc Raibert, founder and chairman of Boston Dynamics, explain:

An athletic performance like dance stresses the mechanical design of the robot, and it also stresses the algorithms in the software. If you look at the dance we did, it’s got dozens of different behaviors, so the team had to make tools that allow us to create those behaviors fast enough to do the project in a reasonable amount of time. That’s the practical answer.

But for me, this was mostly a way of expressing creativity and having fun.

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