Boston Dynamics' robot reindeer pull Santa into the 21st century

Magic can only take you so far in the 21st century, even Santa knows that, which is why Boston Dynamics has been pushing for the future of sleigh technology - robots.

Google-owned robotics firm shows off the unsettling upgrade it made to Santa's sleigh

(Boston Dynamics/YouTube)

Magic can only take you so far in the 21st century, even Santa knows that – which is why Boston Dynamics has been pushing for the future of sleigh technology. A future that includes robo-reindeer.

Owned by Google's parent company Alphabet, Boston Dynamics is a robotics company known for building well-balanced four-legged robots. The firm's mechanical creatures have been a hit online thanks to videos showing off their bot-beasts' capabilities. 

The company's newest robot, Spot, might concern our deer-friends Donner, Dasher, and even Rudolph, given that in a new video they appear to be pulling Santa's sleigh. 

The robots are decked out in antlers, green noses, and wear colourful frames while dragging a wagon with a female Santa Claus in the back seat. 

"Happy Holidays," she says as her pack of machines pulls her along a snowless hill in Massachusetts.

Santa's actual reindeer are probably safe for at least a little bit longer, however, as these robots can't fly or move fast enough to visit every child's home in a single night.

Spot can climb stairs, wander around a building, and race up a hill though.

At 73 kg pounds, they are also much lighter than the average reindeer and, unlike magic reindeer, won't make fun of another robot because it has a luminescent nose. 

Boston Dynamics' robots first caught attention online thanks to YouTube videos showcasing their versatility. While almost all the commenters were impressed, many posts pertain to the amount of time humanity has left before the robots take over. 

"I'm not sure I want to be part of a future where these kinds of things are walking around. It's so terrifying," one commenter wrote on a 2010 YouTube video of Boston Dynamics' Big Dog robot. "I'd just run away, screaming silently."

Boston Dynamics' more recent videos have captured a bit more sympathy for their robotic canines.

In a video the company posted back in February, a man kicks Spot in a parking lot, presumably to show off its stability.

Commenters question why the robot needed to be kicked, with some asking the person to stop because, as one poster put it, "there's something humanly degrading about kicking a four-legged being."

Meanwhile, Atlas, a bipedal robot that can explore nature (albeit with a tethered power cable), may let St. Nick stay indoors during the flight and control the whole operation remotely.

Atlas is another one of the company's projects that the YouTube community finds eerie-looking. They need not fear, however. As far as we know, a robot isn't ready to take over Santa's sleigh just yet – not this year, anyway. 


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