In Brief
  • A leaked video from Boston Dynamics shows the company's new robot, Handle, a bipedal bot on wheels capable of impressive balance.
  • The bot, which its creators call "nightmare inducing," is more flexible than its predecessors, and can carry heavier objects.

Boston Dynamics, the robotics company behind the famous Atlas bot, has a new addition to its line up of two-legged machines. Meet Handle, a robotic biped that exchanged its feet for a pair of wheels. In a leaked video taken during a presentation given by Boston Dynamics founder, Marc Raibert, Handle is seen performing amazing stunts that beat the balancing acts of Atlas.

In the video (posted by venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson) Raibert explains, “everybody thinks we only do legged-robots, so no-one has seen this. This is the debut presentation of what I think will be a nightmare-inducing robot.”

This bot demonstrates excellent balance by adjusting its weight, making it capable of handling heavier objects (hence it’s name: Handle). It’s also more flexible than Atlas, as it is able to land squarely on its wheels after jumping over a short wall. Plus, having wheels instead of feet makes Handle available at a cheaper price point, according to Raibert. Although, the wheels could also limit Handle to smoother terrain.

“This 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 in how to throw its weight around,” Raibert says in the clip. Someday, the bot could replace the need for humans to lift and carry items, aiding in everything from warehouse work to disaster relief. Doesn’t sound very “nightmare-inducing” to us.