The glimpses we caught of Boston Dynamics’ astounding Handle robot earlier this month didn’t tell even half the story.
The cutting-edge robotics company officially unveiled the 6.5-foot-tall Handle on Monday, weeks after a stunning, yet brief, video of it was leaked during a conference early this month.
Now we have the official video and confirmation that Handle brings together everything we love and fear about robots.
Standing full height, Handle looks like what car manufacturing robots might create if asked to build a human. It has wheels for feet and two arms attached to the hip area and extend grotesquely behind it (or is that its front?). Its hands, such as they are, are rubber nubs that can be swapped out for a variety of grabbers. There’s a torso and chest, but no head.
It’s also incredibly agile and athletic. In the video, it rolls over wildly uneven surfaces, turns sharply and even jumps 4 feet vertically while rolling forward at up to 9 miles an hour. At one point Handle appears to do crunches while its nub hands rest on an invisible surface. It’s like a mechanical Olympian.
Handle is also quite strong, casually picking up from behind its back a crate filled with 100 pounds of weights and rolling away.
It also handles snow, ice and even a flight of stairs.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Handle is that, as Boston Dynamics notes in the video description, with just 10 actuator joints, it’s less complex than most of their previous biped and quadruped robots and more energy efficient, going about 15 miles on a single charge.
A robot like this could handle virtually any terrain and could provide potentially life-saving support in search and rescue efforts. It might even make a good home companion if you could afford it (Boston Robotics rarely commercializes its robots).
That’s awesome, but we should all keep in mind: Handle is coming for all of us.