Boston Dynamics rolls out spinning, jumping "Handle" robot
If you thought the legged robots from Boston Dynamics were scary enough, you might want to click away now. Described by company founder Marc Raibert in a presentation to investors as "nightmare inducing," the new robot known as "Handle" takes all your fears of a robopocalypse and puts them on wheels.
Designed to handle objects (hence the name), the robot is bipedal like the company's Atlas robot, but has wheels for feet, which enables it to move more efficiently while shifting its weight to balance and stay upright. The video, which was leaked by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson on YouTube, shows Handle's capabilities being put to the test – including the ability jump objects and spin on the spot like an ice skater.
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Raibert says the robot can "carry a reasonably heavy load on a small footprint" and is essentially an exercise to test the potential for developing a humanoid robot that has less degrees of freedom than a walking robot, and is therefore cheaper to produce, while still retaining comparable mobility capabilities.
In March of last year, Bloomberg News reported that Alphabet, Google's parent company, which purchased Boston Dynamics in 2013, was looking to offload the company, with Toyota and Amazon said to be interested. Maybe Handle will pique their interest even more – the jumping ability would definitely lend itself to a Toyota commercial.
Handles can be seen strutting its stuff in the video below (skip to the 3:41 mark).