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Black Mirror anxiety is real watching 10 robotic dogs pulling a truck

By Adam Pockross
Boston Dynamic robot

Generally speaking, any squadron marching in formation delivers a visceral fright, and is intended to do so, but that fright is exponentially increased when that squadron is comprised of robotic dogs. Or is that just because we saw that Black Mirror episode, "Metalhead"?

Regardless, we can’t unsee that episode, which finds Bella (Maxine Peake) fleeing from rabid robotic dogs against the bleak, black and white backdrop of the end of the world. And now we’re having even more traumatizing flashbacks, thanks to Boston Dynamics’ latest promotional vid, which finds 10 of their eerily similar SpotMini robots marching in formation, hauling one of their shipping trucks across a parking lot. 

Terrifying, right? Yet eerily reminiscent of Santa Claus, no? We don't know if we want to run from robo-pups or ask for one for Christmas!

Imagine one of these things roaming around your home or office, as their intended to do. Or worse yet, imagine 10 of ‘em! Per CNET, each individual SpotMini stands about two and a half feet tall, weighs roughly 66 pounds, and can carry some 31 pounds, or roughly the weight of a defenseless child. And Boston Dynamics claims this is their quietest robot yet, so it can sneak right up on said child. 

In similar fright-inducing fashion, we’ve already seen some of Boston Dynamics' finest loading a dishwasher and opening doors. But this latest display most closely illustrates what we can look forward to when the machines band together and bring humanity's chapter to a bloody close. 

Not surprisingly, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker says Boston Dynamics’ robo-videos had a direct inspiration on his “Metalhead” episode.

“It was from watching Boston Dynamics videos but crossed with — have you seen the film All Is Lost? I wanted to do a story where there was almost no dialogue. And with those videos, there’s something very creepy watching them where they get knocked over, and they look sort of pathetic laying there, but then they slowly manage to get back up,” Brooker told Entertainment Weekly.

You can get a really cool look at the un-knock-down-able “dogs” in the "Metalhead" in DNEG’s VFX breakdown below, which does a good job of not just capturing the terror these machines instill, but also the amount of CG wizardry it takes to create such creatures. 

What do you think? Should we be keeping a closer eye on Boston Dynamics, or investing in them? According to the company, SpotMinis will soon be coming off the production line and available to the public (well, as long as we the public can last during the robo-apocalypse).