Boston Dynamics, a Google subsidiary that focuses on robotics, officially unveiled their latest creation on Monday: a machine that the company’s own founder refers to as “nightmare inducing.”
Their new robot, called Handle, stands at an intimidating six and a half feet tall, with limbs that are just human-like enough to give you the creeps and wheels mounted at the bottom of its feet. According to Boston Dynamics, by coupling legs with wheels, it offers the most mobile versatility while simultaneously reducing the number of joints required to allow the machine to navigate on uneven surfaces.
“Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build,” Boston Dynamics said, “but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs, Handle can have the best of both worlds.”
The end result is a machine that can zip about at 9 miles per hour, handle patches of grass or stairwells with ease, and that can cover as much as fifteen miles on a single charge. The video demonstrates Handle picking up one hundred pounds without exerting significant effort, but little is known about the robot’s maximum lifting capabilities. Aside from endurance and strength, it also boasts an NBA player-like vertical leap – as the machine can launch itself four feet into the air to jump onto or over obstacles.