When you think of Boston Dynamics, you probably think about the company’s freakish four-legged robots that walk and crawl their way over obstacles. But if you thought it couldn’t get any crazier than that, just check out the company’s latest creation: an experimental wheeled robot that one team member described as being “potentially nightmare-inducing.”
In a recent presentation, Boston Dynamics showcased its first-ever wheeled robot along with a preview of its new and improved SpotMini robot. While the SpotMini wowed the crowd with its skills in doing the dishes and delivering drinks, it was the wheeled robot named “Handle” that left everyone in awe. Why was it given the name Handle? Because someday it will be given the ability to handle objects, a feature set that makes the robot even cooler and more terrifying to consider.
Combining wheels with legs and a stabilization system, the Handle looks like the monstrous offspring of a robot and a Segway. According to Boston Dynamics, it’s actually much more efficient than its legged counterparts. The robot is capable of carrying a heavier load on a small footprint, and is expected to be less expensive to build than the company’s humanoid or legged robots. Not only can the Handle maneuver smoothly across the floor, but it also can roll down hills and can even jump over hurdles without missing a beat.
Besides the Handle, Boston Dynamics also showcased a variety legged robots that improve upon its current designs. The new SpotMini, for example, is equipped with a head stabilization feature that allows it to hold its head still while the rest of its body moves. It’s so smooth that the robot can hold a glass of wine and move around without spilling it. On the humanoid side, Boston Dynamics also improved its bipedal humanoid robots, showing off a second-generation Atlas robot that uses its whole body to complete common warehouse tasks like lifting boxes.
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