One year ago,
Four weeks ago, Boston Dynamics - which is best known for its bipedal and quadrupedal robots - revealed it had been experimenting with some radical new tech: the wheel. The company named its new wheeled, upright robot is named
Creating a more efficient robot that can, pardon the pun, handle basic tasks like moving objects around a warehouse would certainly be of benefit for Boston Dynamics. Although the company has consistently wowed the public with its robots, it’s struggled to produce a commercial product that’s ready for the real world. That may soon change.
Raibert described Handle as an “experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time and has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around.” He added that using wheels is more efficient than legs, although there’s obviously a trade-off in terms of maneuvering over uneven ground.
“This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot,” said Raibert.
He wasn't kidding: as the video below reveals, Handle is officially about 6 foot 5, weights about 100lbs, and can roll around at around 9 mph, while preserving perfect balance and even engaging in complex aerial acrobatics: Handle can keep its balance over rough terrain, and can even jump 4 feet in the air, as well as going down stairs without an issue.
While we are confident Amazon will promptly order a few thousands of these to bring even more streamline automation and efficiency to its behemoth warehouses while putting countless part-time workers out of work, we don't know if to dread or yearn for the moment when RoboHandle emerges in a quiet patrol of your neighborhood street, armed and ready to use lethal force, and gradually replacing the local police force around the country.