Matt MacKinnon didn’t intend to create a viral sensation last fall when he unboxed his semiautonomous Boston Dynamics robot dog and decided to take it for a late evening stroll on a downtown Sudbury street.
The founder and president of Unmanned Aerial Services (UAS) just couldn’t resist the the urge to test out the hand-operated controller and put ‘Spot’ through its paces on a set of stairs near his office. MacKinnon’s business revolves around advanced technology.
With a very specialized niche skillset, UAS uses small aerial drones to conduct inspections at underground mines and confined spaces in industrial plants. The growing 14-employee Sudbury-based company has offices in Val d’Or and Montana.
But within minutes of MacKinnon and Spot hitting the seemingly deserted streets, two individuals in a car pulled up beside him on the sidewalk, asking questions about the quadrupedal robot, and could they grab a photo?
Mindful of Boston Dynamics’ instructions to keep Spot out of the spotlight, MacKinnon also realized he was on a public street and couldn’t prevent the passersby from taking photos. But they were also shooting phone video, “which makes sense,” he said, retrospectively.