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SpotMini opens door
Boston Dynamics’ SpotMini robot props a door open. (Boston Dynamics via YouTube)

We all laughed at the video of a robot falling over while trying to turn a doorknob.

Who’s laughing now?

In the latest creepy video from the roboticists at Boston Dynamics, one four-legged, doglike SpotMini robot walks up to a closed door, seems to peer up at the latch, then backs away to wait for another SpotMini to come around the corner.

The second robot has a mechanical arm where its head should be. It uses a hand to turn the latch, pull open the door, and keep holding it open while both robots traipse on through.

The similarities to the velociraptors’ doorknob-turning scene in “Jurassic Park” didn’t go unnoticed.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the video, other than its headlong dive into the uncanny valley, is the awkward way the second SpotMini uses one of its legs to prop the half-open door in place, and then twists its arm around to open it wider and keep it open. The action is very humanlike, which suggests that SpotMini’s designers are still wedded to our way of doing things, biomechanically speaking.

Boston Dynamics, which Softbank purchased from Alphabet last year for an undisclosed sum, has a wide range of robotic offerings for military, industrial and home applications. It says SpotMini can handle objects, climb stairs and “will operate in offices, homes and outdoors.”

Is that a marketing promise, or a threat of “Black Mirror” proportions?

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