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These robot dogs can’t bark — but they can speak in full sentences thanks to ChatGPT

A yellow quadrapedal robot with a mechanical arm attached to its back stands on a stage in front of a purple backdriop that says "collision."A “Spot” robot dog made by Boston Dynamics.

Sam Barnes/Sportsfile for Collision via Getty Images

  • Boston Dynamic’s robot dogs can now speak thanks to OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Fast Company reported
  • A demonstration shows a robo-dogs answering questions about its tasks verbally, in plain English. 
  • The talking dogs are currently still in the research phase and are not available commercially.

Boston Dynamics’ robotic dogs may not be able to bark — but they can speak in complete sentences, thanks to generative AI. 

Levatas, an AI-software company, partnered with Boston Dynamics to integrate OpenAI’s ChatGPT into Spot, the robo-pups that the company introduced in 2020. Using Google Assistant’s voice technology, ChatGPT gives the robot dogs the ability to understand and respond to humans face-to-face. 

“Customers can query anything they want,” Chris Nielsen, the founder and CEO of Levatas, told Fast Company

Used by industries like manufacturing and logistics, these AI-powered robot dogs were originally designed to carry out “missions,” or long lists of tasks they’d been programmed to do, like identify spills and leaks, and search for equipment damage in factories, Nielsen told Insider.

In doing these tasks, the robot dogs would collect large sets of data that “only technical people can handle,” Nielsen told Fast Company.

The new ChatGPT feature — which has yet to be released commercially — can communicate this data to people with less technical expertise, he added. When asked a question about the robot’s tasks, ChatGPT can interpret it and formulate an answer by analyzing the robot’s data, he said. 

A demonstration of these robot dogs shows they are are capable of answering verbal questions in a clear way. 

When a person asked Spot, “How many inspections in your next mission?” the robot replied, “My next mission involves 20 inspections.”

Later, a different person asked Spot to describe its last mission. The robot responded with details about where the mission took place, the length of time it took to complete it, and that it detected “two thermal anomalies.” 

—Santiago (@svpino) April 25, 2023


The news about Spot’s new capabilities comes just weeks after Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, announced that the city’s police department will once again be deploying Boston Dynamic’s robot dogs during life-threatening situations such as bomb threats and hostages. They will even be used to inspect hazardous waste sites.

Adams said the dogs can “save lives” in situations where “you can’t have police officers going inside because it’s dangerous,” though privacy concerns abound. 

Though Levatas doesn’t work with the NYPD, Nielsen told Insider that he “could see a valuable use case” with ChatGPT where anyone could communicate with the robot to  “ask it for directions” or find out  “where the closest emergency services facility” is located. 

A Boston Dynamics spokesperson told Insider that the ChatGPT integration is still in its research and development phase, and has so far only been demonstrated in “the context of industrial equipment inspections.”

“This integration, like all applications of our robots, must adhere to our terms and conditions and ethical principles, which strictly prohibit weaponizing the robots or using them for purposes of harm or intimidation,” the spokesperson said.

ChatGPT isn’t just able to speak through robot dogs. 

In March, D-ID, an Israeli startup, launched a beta version of chat.D-ID, a web app that allows users to converse with ChatGPT through an avatar that will soon be customizable. 

And last month, users took to Twitter to share their reactions to verbally talking to ChatGPT through a human simulation using a tool made by Bubbles, a video collaboration platform. “My mind is blown,” one user wrote.

But Nielsen said he wants to take Spot’s ChatGPT functions a step further. The CEO said his company is trying to figure out how to integrate GPT-4 — ChatGPT’s latest, most advanced language model — to come up with solutions to complex problems. 

“These Spot units will be able to explore facilities, discover a variety of equipment and conditions, and then report back with safety, security, and maintenance recommendations for the human teams to address,” Nielsen said.

Read the original article on Business Insider