Boston Dynamics Handle: A 2-Wheeled, “Nightmare-Inducing” Robot

Boston Dynamics debuted a new two-wheeled robot called Handle that can jump over obstacles, self-balance and eventually move objects around.

Boston Dynamics teased a new two-wheeled robot called Handle that can jump over obstacles, self-balance and eventually move objects around.

A video that leaked on YouTube, which you can watch above, shows Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert debuting Handle at a presentation. Raibert also talks about some of the company’s other robots, including SpotMini, but fast forward to the 3:45 mark to watch Handle’s debut.

Raibert shows Handle jump over cones, spin around, and do other impressive stunts. Raibert says Handle is an exercise in building a humanoid that has less degrees of freedom and is less expensive, but one that still has significant capability.

One of the issues with commercializing a robot like Boston Dynamics’ next-gen Atlas robot, for example, is that legged robots aren’t as efficient and they’re quite costly. Handle ditches the articulated feet for wheels to potentially overcome both of the aforementioned drawbacks.

Raibert says Handle has knowledge of how to throw its weight around, self-balances itself at all times, and is a “nightmare-inducing” robot.

Boston Dynamics sees home delivery as a practical application for its SpotMini robot dog. Raibert recently said “we’re exploring the idea of home delivery. Instead of using drones, maybe you can do it with plain ol’ robots.” He went on to say SpotMini would have to be cheaper before it starts making deliveries.

Is home delivery an area where Handle could eventually step in? We’ve already declared 2017 the year of the delivery robot, and Handle would certainly be “nightmare-inducing” as it’s cruising around the streets (or sidewalks) late at night delivering pizzas. Or will Handle stick to more controlled environments like warehouses?

We’ll have to wait and see, but kudos to Boston Dynamics on another impressive robot.


About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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