I asked a MMA coach to help me defend myself against SpotMini.
Image: Screenshot via Boston Dynamics on Youtube, Shutterstock / Composition: Samantha Cole
Earlier this week, the world saw a harrowing video of a man antagonizing Boston Dynamics' new robot with a hockey stick. People are legitimately afraid of this mecha dog. Every other blogger cowers in fear of this thing.
At first glance, I will admit that I had no love for it, either. But look, I will not be cowed by any robot. I believe in my heart that I could defeat SpotMini in an arena of combat. After studying my opponent’s capabilities, I am sure that this chump is going down.
Personally, if I’m really going after it, my first instinct is to jump directly on its back and throw all of my weight into rolling this guy. It weighs about 66 pounds and stands around three feet tall, so this wouldn’t be without some sweat on my part. It would surely result in me getting rocked into next year. Despite my blind confidence, I needed an expert to tell me how to take this guy on properly, without owning myself in the process.
I asked René Dreifuss, head coach at Radical MMA in NYC, to size up SpotMini and tell me exactly how to take it down. He wasn’t impressed by our challenger. “I looked at it, and it’s walking on four legs, it has no visible weapons except for that tentacle thing, and doesn’t seem fast,” he said.
Grabbing two legs and tipping it over probably would do the trick, Dreifuss said. SpotMini has all of the flexibility of a futon, plus some grumpy little mechanized legs and feet. “Obviously you could kick it over and stomp on its head. If it were in some way endangering me that’s probably what I would do.”
It also has 17 separate joints—making up 17 points of weakness. “If it had a lot of strength, I would employ a jiu-jitsu hold on whatever point of weakness I could find, which seems like the joint," Dreifuss said. An old-fashioned arm bar would destroy one of these joint handily. This is a similar tactic to what Danielle Riendeau, managing editor of Waypoint and student of MMA, told Motherboard. She said she could take SpotMini because it has no ground game. "It has zero flexibility, so it'd be fairly easy to knock down at the legs/hips and then, yeah, like, break off its limbs," she said.
The SpotMini’s 90 minute battery life is yet another weakness. I am not a great endurance runner, but I am a pretty good endurance hider. The battery life is contingent on what it’s doing, so presumably the longer it’s running around looking for me with its roving 3D vision perception system, the more it’s burning through a lot of energy. I can hide from just about anything for an hour and a half.
The robot that’s really something to be afraid of, my new post-apocalyptic coach Dreifuss said, is Boston Dynamics’ WildCat, which runs at 19 mph and is not messing around whatsoever. “I would probably pick up a shotgun and shoot at it,” he said. Noted.
I emailed Boston Dynamics and asked for more specifications on the speed and strength of their terrible son, but have not yet heard back. Perhaps they don’t want us to know how easily it would be defeated. While I wait, I will study the blade.