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Robots are the future, and Boston Dynamics attempts to reach the pinnacle with its impressive new design. Named Handle, this striking new robot is the result of an experimentation with a radical new tech: the wheel.
Boston Dynamics, a subsidiary of Google, Inc, is known for building advanced robots with remarkable mobility, agility, dexterity and speed. With Handle, Boston Dynamics showcased its first-ever wheeled robot in a recent presentation to investors.
A preview of an upgraded and refined version of SpotMini robot won over the crowds with its meticulous dish-washing techniques. However, the showstopper was Handle, with its remarkable agility on full display, as evident in a footage uploaded by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson.
Handle seems like a cross between a Segway and a two-legged Atlas droid. According to company founder Marc Raibert,
Handle is an “experiment in combining wheels with legs, with a very dynamic system that is balancing itself all the time and has a lot of knowledge of how to throw its weight around.”
The wheels, it seems, is an effective appendage when it comes to flat-ground movements. With a striking stabilization mechanism, it might turn out to be more efficient than its three-legged counterparts. However, an obvious hindrance is reduced effectiveness on uneven terrain.
The droid is aimed to have the ability to handle objects efficiently. In fact, it 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.
This new design seems so different that one team member referred to it being “potentially nightmare-inducing.”
Other Plans by Boston Dynamics
Apart from Handle, Boston Dynamics boasted of some other impressive droids and humanoids with innovative new features.
- The upgraded SpotMini, for one, 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.
Boston Dynamics has come up with some out-of-the-box designs. However, it is yet to produce a full-scale commercial droid that can be deployed in the real world. It was reported last year, that Alphabet intended to sell the firm and that Toyota and Amazon were potentially interested buyers.
Here’s hoping that these latest new designs with spectacular features can be Boston Dynamics’ salvation. Tell us what you think about these new features in the comments below.
Android Developer | Electronics Undergrad
Pratyusha loves new gadgets and tinkering around with them. An avid coder, she likes playing around with Android and Arduino. She is currently a second year undergraduate student in Jadavpur University.