Boston Dynamics' Handle robot is something from the future. A leaked video earlier this month gave us a peek of what this wheeled robot can do, and its makers have good reasons to call it a nightmare-inducing robot.
Boston Dynamics is used to making people's jaws drop. Its Atlas robot can balance itself on one foot and can chase things down even on rough ground. Perhaps one day, one of its robots might replace today's working dogs.
Humans, Say Hello To Handle
Handle is another special creation. It's 6.5 feet tall, has a 4-foot vertical jump, and can cruise as fast as 9 mph.
"It uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex," Boston Dynamics describes its Handle Robot.
Its wheels allow Handle to be very efficient on flat surfaces while its legs permit it to explore practically any surface it needs to go to. Check out the video below, and it's ok to say W-O-W.
What Can Handle Do?
Boston Dynamics' Handle can go from straddling to a standing position in a matter of seconds. Push forward and go full speed and stop smoothly. It's like a top athlete going full speed and then precisely stopping as needed. It can turn fast to the right or left and demonstrates stability engineers will wish for on their robots.
The robot can also spin on its wheels and it can spin so well it can challenge the best human ice skaters. Handle also has the ability to jump over obstacles or even jump and glide on surfaces such as a table.
Handle can also carry 100-pound crates too and perhaps that gives us a preview of one practical purpose of this machine.
While Boston Dynamics declares that the robot is just for research and development, one cannot help but think of how this robot can help humans in the future. Imagine a battalion of Handle robots moving items in warehouses or factories. If drones are not ideal for delivering packages, robots such as Handle might be a good alternative. It will be perfect for search or relief operations too given its versatility at this very early stage.
The possibilities are endless, but in the end, of course, it will matter how much one needs to have a functional robot such as Handle.