Robotics

Video: Boston Dynamics' dino-like Handle robot prepares to get a real job

Video: Boston Dynamics' dino-l...
Handle: coming soon for a warehouse job near you
Handle: coming soon for a warehouse job near you
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Handle can work with regular-sized pallets up to 1.2 meters deep
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Handle can work with regular-sized pallets up to 1.2 meters deep
Handle: coming soon for a warehouse job near you
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Handle: coming soon for a warehouse job near you

It's always stunning to see the latest videos out of Boston Dynamics, where robotics seems 10 years ahead of anywhere else. And this time, you won't be having nightmares about Handle coming for you – you'll be thinking about exactly which warehouse jobs it's coming for first.

When we first saw Handle in action, we marveled at its agility. Balancing in surreal fashion on two legs with wheels at the end, it rolled down staircases, leapt into the air and generally kept us up at night imagining a thousand Black Mirror-type scenarios where this thing would hunt us down one by one on a xenocidal rampage.

Now it's back, presenting an entirely different type of threat: it doesn't look like it's going to kill us, just render our time and manual labor worthless. Handle has been re-purposed for warehouse work, and fitted out with intelligent vision systems that allow it to autonomously pick and stack boxes on pallets.

Handle can work with regular-sized pallets up to 1.2 meters deep
Handle can work with regular-sized pallets up to 1.2 meters deep

Watching it in motion is extraordinary as always, particularly in this case the way it uses a large "tail" counterweight to pre-balance itself before maneuvers on the floor. We didn't see it so much in the previous videos, but Handle's bipedal design now looks very much like a T-Rex in motion, swinging its tail back and forth to balance out boxes as heavy as 15 kg (33 lb).

This version of the robot can work with pallets up to 1.2 m (48 in) deep and 1.7 m (69 in) tall. And it does a nice job of stacking regular-sized boxes – it'll be interesting to watch it learn to play Tetris with a range of irregular box shapes as it gets ready for its first real days at work.

Check it out in the video below.

Source: Boston Dynamics

Handle Robot Reimagined for Logistics

6 comments
Nik
The first thing to teach it, is to place the pallet a lot closer to the point of operation. Who pushes the pallet lifter? If its a human, does that mean that they have to sit idle while the robot loads the pallet? An autonomous pallet lifter would seem, an essential component. Do they have one?
paul314
At least for now it appears to need a lot more clearance than a person doing similar tasks. That will likely change.
GaryCamp
The article author seems particularly anti robot who will kill us or make us useless. While this may be possible, in the short term (50 years) it is much more likely to augment our work. It is fine to consider the problems robots might cause but solutions besides banning them are needed, not "Sky is falling" knee jerk.
BrianK56
We are getting there fast.
Gordon Torbet
I'm not sure fully understand the need for the over-complicated balance/counter-balance design. It possibly allows for a certain degree of reach and manoeuvrablility, but wouldn't a triangulated wheel base and arm extension be far more stable, reliable and far less demanding of computing power and energy usage? Can someone elaborate?
dionkraft
Pallet robots have been around for decades. They just follow a program that dictate when the loading is finished and then follow painted lines on the cement to a destination which is REAL OLD technology. I am sure that has been surpassed by now. As for where all this will go is to eliminate or augment humans in repetitive labor and save money especially if its wages longshoremen make. But you can see the writing on the wall for labor intensive warehouse work. Also these robots can also be repurposed for helping elderly humans make it day to day. Since Boston Dynamics is owned by SoftBank I am sure there will be a big market to the care of the elderly in the future. You can bet on it.