Sporadically a company comes along with the potential to radically disrupt the industry in which they operate. These innovative organizations are the ones that push us forward as a society, and they create the white space for future developments and advancements to take hold.
Boston Dynamics is one of those companies. In the field of robotics, there isn’t another player who can match up in terms of ambition and productization – especially in a nascent industry that is pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. In this article, we’ll explore their ambitions, intentions, and goals to evaluate what they might be able to achieve as a company.
The company’s self-stated mission is to “imagine and create exceptional robots that enrich people’s lives.” They understand that the journey toward creating machines that can approximate the mobility, dexterity, and agility of humans will be a long one – but they believe that it’s an important step in the future of our species – to reduce the danger, repetition, and physically difficult aspects of our work.
What sets them apart as a company is their willingness and desire to build dynamically stable, legged machines that are humanoid in terms of form factor. This is in stark contrast to most robotics companies that forgo legs and other humanlike components in favor of more purpose-built machinery. The choice to stick with human forms is an interesting choice, and so far, it clearly hasn’t impacted the success of the company. In fact, you could argue that, as a marketing angle – it’s helped to catapult the company’s products to the top of mainstream consciousness.
This particular articulation of the company’s intentions points towards mostly industrial applications where robots can add a lot of value – but it also hides a more wide-ranging set of applications that have much greater impact on the day-to-day lives of ordinary people. It’s important to realize that the products that have already been created only represent the beginning of this revolution. As the technology continues to advance (both hardware and software) we’ll continue to see the capabilities expanding and that naturally will increase the scope of what is possible.
Let’s look forward and imagine what could be possible if Boston Dynamics continue on the trajectory they’ve been on.
Where Could the Company Go From Here?
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see a future where advanced robots are part and parcel of our home lives, civil society, and the wider human endeavour at large. If you look back at the past 50 years of technological progress, we’ve seen more and more things being handed off to machines that were previously done by humans. By leveraging these systems, we can free ourselves from the tasks that we don’t want to do, and the ones that we don’t do as well as a computer can.
Most of this so far has been in the realm of software, taking advantage of improvements in artificial intelligence and automation more generally. Robotics is the piece that can allow us to take this ethos and bring it into the physical world. Boston Dynamics is well-positioned to lead the way here because of how far ahead they are of any other robotics company.
As machines play larger roles in our day-to-day lives, we’ll see everything change. The future of our species looks more and more to be a hybrid where we leverage artificial intelligence to make our lives easier, more efficient, and to free up our time so that we can work on more meaningful things. This is a substantial shift in how we think about our world, and the companies that create these machines are in the prime seats to drive that innovation.
If we start to see robots being deployed in the vast array of possible applications – then you can bet that Boston Dynamics is going to have something to do with it. Whether they work on their own, or in consortium with governments and other organizations, they hold the key to a drastically different world that we can scarcely imagine at this point. The company seems to be maintaining very rigorous ethical standards and a hunger to succeed that will suit them well as they continue to scale. And you’d be hard-pressed to bet against them playing the leading role in the new world that is coming down the pipeline.
In conclusion, we seem to be on the precipice of a new revolution that could entirely change the way that we live and the way that we work. As a company, Boston Dynamics could dominate this market and grow into one of the largest engines of economic growth that this world has ever seen. If they continue on the path that they have chartered so far, their name might go down in history as the company that ushered in the era of true human-robot co-dependency.
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