Alphabet's Boston Dynamics Showcases Wheeled Robot 'Handle,' AKA The Stuff Nightmares Are Made Of
Boston Dynamics is showing off its latest creation: a "nightmare-inducing" robot equipped with two wheels called Handle.
At the Abundance360 event in Los Angeles, company founder Marc Raibert took the stage to unveil the machine via a video, and he had this to say as an introduction:
"This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot, if you're anything like me."
Looking Closer At Handle
As mentioned earlier, Boston Dynamics is calling the self-balancing robot on wheels Handle, and that's because it's designed to handle objects in the foreseeable future.
Appearance-wise, it seems to have taken a lot of cues from the team's earlier work Atlas. Still, Raibert wasn't kidding when he said it was nightmare inducing.
Now, the video that Venture Capitalist Steve Jurvetson posted shows some footage of the presentation, and in it, Handle can be seen whizzing around the lab.
Now the scary robots have wheels! Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert just showed "Handle" for the first time https://t.co/2mTWTuCmb1
— Steve Jurvetson (@dfjsteve) Jan. 31, 2017
According to Raibert, it's an "experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time." More than that, it's also packed with the know-how on how to shift its weight to keep its balance, which is sort of like how a person keeps oneself from falling over while on Rollerblades.
What's impressive is how it can leap off into the air and land, perfectly staying upright. As beginner skaters might know, that's not exactly the easiest feat to accomplish.
However, having wheels does have its downside, as Handle will be limited to flat surfaces, unlike its bipedal sibling.
Why Handle, And Why Not Atlas?
Raibert says that a robot with wheels is more efficient than one with legs, and thus, Handle was born. It's not just that, though. He also mentions that it's a way for Boston Dynamics to see whether or not it can create a useful robot that's less costly than Atlas.
Boston Dynamics And Alphabet
Despite the company's publicity, it's still having a difficult time in pushing out a product that'll fit right in the consumer market.
Back in March 2016, Alphabet put the subsidiary up for sale because it appeared unlikely to generate solid revenue, with former Google Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg saying the company just can't invest its resources in "things that take ten years" to make, Bloomberg reported.
At the time, Toyota and Amazon seemed to be the prime candidates in buying Boston Dynamics, but since then, no development has taken place.
The Bottom Line
To boil things down, Boston Dynamics has unveiled the wheel-legged robot Handle, which could otherwise be known as the stuff nightmares are made of.
At any rate, it's a good sign that the team behind Atlas is trying out new things to innovate its creations, and it might just be enough to get noticed by more potential bidders — that is, assuming it's still for sale.
What do you think of Handle? Drop by our comments section below and let us know.