"We will be replaced"

Xiaomi’s latest robot dog does backflips off skateboards, costs $3,000 | TechCrunch
When it was first unveiled in the summer of 2021, Xiaomi’s CyberDog designed was best described as a more nightmarish version of Boston Dynamics’ Spot. I

CyberDog 2!

This week at MWC was my first opportunity to see the new CyberDog up close. Demos were limited at Xiaomi’s booth, exclusively showcasing the little dog’s dressage shuffle. Watching it do its little dance really did remind me of a scaled down version of Boston Dynamics’ familiar robot.

The robot can also flip, as seen in some of the promotional video. It opted not to perform that specific task this morning, though I don’t doubt it can. As one CSAIL professor working with the school’s Mini-Cheetah robot once told me, “flipping is much easier than walking” when it comes to these machines. It’s an important reminder of how robot design is fundamentally different than ours.

Xiaomi's video is very well done. (Released 6 months ago as a teaser, but today was the actual unveil of the robot.) A good mixture of fun and clever while poking slightly at the AI backlash/general fears.1 That said, this also came to my mind:

I would describe the head as resembling a Dobermann’s, with the cropped, pointy ears. I’ve met plenty of nice Dobermanns in my life, though I understand that the breed is one many wouldn’t consider particularly friendly.

Perhaps that my own bias speaking, as when I was an infant, my parents had to give away our pet Dobermann for trying to attack me. So I also fear this thing might bring back some deep seeded PTSD in me if I see one. Then again, others seem to think it looks more like a cat. Couldn't they at least have made it not assassin black in color?

CyberDog 2 can currently be purchased online for $3,000 – that’s nearly double the $1,600 price point of its predecessor. Of course, that version didn’t have a video where it does a sick backflip off a moving skateboard.

If people are worried about the sales numbers for the $3,500 Vision Pro, how many people are realistically going to buy CyberDog 2? Also, the price point seems to be going the wrong way.2 Still, it's fun! I do envision a world where little robots in the physical world become a part of our daily lives – more than just robot vacuum cleaners which only the EU seems very afraid of...

1 I don't believe I've watched a Xiaomi video before, at least not one targeted at the English-language market, but I appreciate how they make it very clear to pronounce the company name -- long a point of contention in the western markets -- "Shh-oww-me" not "Show me".

2 The taglines "Be friends with tomorrow" and "Join us to co-develop a better tomorrow" seem to acknowledge that this is more a public robotic experiment and less a mass scale device. So perhaps Apple is setting a new norm in that regard...