Robo-dog Santa sleigh will haunt your Christmas


Ho, ho, horrifying?
Ho, ho, horrifying?
Photo: Boston Dynamics/YouTube

Robots are cool, but there are some things visionary engineers in the robotics field should not mess with – like eight tiny reindeer.

Boston Dynamics put their famous robotic dogs through another test – harnessing three Spot bots to a sleigh, pulling a waving Santa-like figure (not the real Santa, but a real person dressed as Mrs. Claus). The Google-owned company posted a video on YouTube of the prancing robo dogs, apparently showing the world once again that even the job of Rudolph can be replaced by a robot.

While this is the kind of Christmas wishes you would expect from such a future-thinking company, the scene surprisingly did not sit well with some tech journalists, the very people who champion technological advancements in their daily writings.

Business Insider’s Matt Weinberger called the video Christmas card “seriously disturbing” and “unnerving.”

“As a Jew, I already feel like I don’t really get Christmas or Santa Claus,” Weinberger wrote. “The involvement of terrifying robot dogs, funded by the world’s most popular search engine, just confuses the matter further.”

Andrew Liszewski of Gizmodo stopped short of calling it evidence of a robot uprising. Nonetheless, he called it a “terrifying glimpse of Christmas Future.” He described the video as the opposite of heartwarming.

Engadget’s Richard Lawler has described the creations by Boston Dynamics as agile, speedy and able to cross even rugged terrain. He might even want his very own Spot bot.

“As usual, I’m torn between wishing one of those was waiting under my Christmas tree, or treating this as an early warning sign of a holiday-themed Judgement Day robot takeover,” Lawler wrote.

The Boston Dynamics engineers clearly mean no offense or to fill our hearts with terror. The Spot bots are kind of cute and their stable hands were clever enough to program the hooves to clip-clop in time to Jingle Bells.