Boston Dynamics’ latest robot is Handle, and this self-balancing, wheel-driven bot inspires a mix of awe and fear from us. Maintaining an upright posture is impressive enough, but check out this video to see the other amazing feats this android can accomplish.
Handle can not only speed around, but this video shows the robot jumping onto a table without any need to slow down. It has no problem going down stairs or descending a snow-covered hill, either. Creating an adaptive suspension that can soak up this punishment is amazing.
Boston Dynamics’ new robots are each more impressive than the last, but the company keeps a fairly low public profile. According to the YouTube description about Handle, it’s 6.5 feet tall (1.98 meters) and can jump 4 feet (1.2m) high. While the latest creation’s movements are incredible, this one is actually simpler than some of the company’s past work by having only 10 actuated joints. Handle’s electric motors let the droid reach nine miles per hour (14.5 kilometers per hour) and can go 15 miles (24 kph) on a charge. Boston Dynamics doesn’t say how long the juice in the batteries last. However, the range and top speed suggest a max charge might last about an hour and a half or a somewhat more.
Boston Dynamics also hints at future methods for its robots to get around. “Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds,” the company writes on YouTube.
Alphabet, which owns Boston Dynamics, is still looking to sell the robot company, but there’s no buyer yet. An impressive display like this video of Handle should look good on the firm’s résumé, though. According to a report last year, Toyota was allegedly interested in purchasing both Boston Dynamics and fellow bot maker Schaft from Alphabet. If the buyout happens, the firms would likely become part of the Toyota Research Institute, which is leading the automaker’s development of next-gen artificial intelligence.