Google’s Boston Dynamics is thinking about using its dog robots to deliver things to your doorstep

Hello, here for a delivery.
Hello, here for a delivery.
Image: James Weaver
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Google has spent the better part of 2016 teaching its robot dogs a few new tricks, but it seems the company is still unsure what the bots will actually be good for in the real world.

One possibility floated by Boston Dynamics CEO Marc Raibert is using the million-dollar bots to deliver ordinary packages.

“Many people are talking about drone delivery,” Raibert told MIT Technology Review . “So why not just plain legged robots?”

While four-legged robots might excel at navigating a messy world designed for humans, other recent technologies seem more practical. Starship delivery bots are already completing last-mile shipments in London, Düsseldorf, Bern, and Hamburg. Another robotic delivery company, Dispatch, raised $2 million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and has begun pilot tests on two California college campuses.

But using a highly-complex, military-funded robot to deliver that new water bottle you ordered from Amazon would have its advantages. For example, the robot’s arm could knock on doors, open gates, or even leave objects in a specific location. And not much could get in the bots’ way of making a delivery, after recent research has improved their ability to traverse nearly any rough terrain.

It’s unlikely that Boston Dynamics robots will be built on a production line any time soon, though: Months after a report that Google was trying to sell the company, solid use cases and interested buyers appear equally rare.