Samsung and Hyundai are about to start a battle of the robots. And the first ones to be thrown in the ring are the four-legged ones, affectionately called robot dogs.
The recent CES 2023 was the perfect opportunity for Samsung Electronics’ co-CEO Han Jong-Hee to confirm that the company is now the second-largest shareholder of Rainbow Robotics. One of the latest releases of this Korean robotics company happens to be a four-legged machine. And, even though its name (RBQ-3) is a lot less friendly than Spot, the two dogs are strikingly similar.
Considering that Hyundai is Spot’s latest owner, after the acquisition of Boston Dynamics in 2021, these two robotic dogs are now unofficially rivals. Samsung has dipped its toe in robotics, with the launch of some housekeeping and service items, but the RBQ-3 will help it move to another league.
Meanwhile, the South Korean carmaker didn’t waste any time and has already developed its first joint project with Boston Dynamics. Tested at Hyundai’s Kia factory, the new Factory Service Safety Robot is a version of the world-famous Spot, specifically designed to operate in car factories. At the time, Hyundai officials were stating that they plan to introduce the new robot at all of the brand’s plants.
Samsung will have some catching up to do. It only recently finalized the acquisition of Rainbow Robotics shares (reportedly for a total of $46 million) and the RBQ-3 itself is far from the vast and diverse experience of Spot, having only been launched a couple of months ago.
Rainbow Robotics was founded by researchers from the Humanoid Robot Research Center (HUBO Lab) at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). The new RBQ-3 is part of its series of quadruped robots capable of various missions, including monitoring, reconnaissance, and search.
Similar to what Spot has proven to be capable of, the RBQ-3 can also show off some spectacular moves (such as backflips) in addition to an autonomy of up to one hour and a half. It can also handle different types of challenging terrain, and withstand impact.
Rainbow Robotics is also the creator of HUBO2, a pioneering bipedal humanoid robot made in Korea. Nearly 4 ft tall (120 cm) HUBO2 is capable of complex motions and it features a real-time controller on its chest.
Now, it’s time to see whether Samsung and Rainbow Robotics will develop a new robotic dog based on the RBQ-3, and specifically designed for Samsung, just as Hyundai has done with Boston Dynamics.