2 min read

This Dog Robot Seems So Real We Felt Bad When Someone Kicked It

<p> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8YjvHYbZ9w"><em>YouTube/Boston Dynamics</em></a><span></span> </p>

Meet Spot - a 160-pound robot that runs like a horse but is much more dog-sized:

(YouTube/Boston Dynamics)

Spot was created by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company recently purchased by Google. The group had previously built a larger robot called Big Dog, which stands like a pony next to Spot's Newfoundland frame. The robots' creators say that these machines can easily traverse rough terrain, perhaps carrying supplies or mapping disaster zones.

In its YouTube debut on Monday, Spot shows off a few decidedly dog-like traits, such as going for a jog with one of the roboticists.

(YouTube/Boston Dynamics)

And then, with nary a warning, there's the literal kicker:(YouTube/Boston Dynamics)

The researchers aren't being cruel, of course - they're showing off how well the robot can stay balanced. But if your swift gut reaction is a tinge of sadness for the robo-pup, you wouldn't be alone. A handful of studies, in fact, indicate that humans can feel empathy for automatons under the right circumstances.

Maybe we're just suckers for robots, however, that happen to look like dogs - or baby penguins.