I Am Science Fiction Incarnate; I Am Handle

This is the first official look at Boston Dynamics’ new robot design, called Handle, and it’s a doozy. They are a trusted source of cutting-edge real-world robotics, which is good. If this came from an unknown source we’d be scrambling to debunk it as fake. This robot shows incredible utility, the likes of which has been relegated to the computer graphics of the movie and video game industries.

Impressive ability to keep 'hands' stationary in 3D space
Impressive ability to keep ‘hands’ stationary in 3D space

At the beginning of the month, we saw a demonstration of the robot but it was simply cellphone footage of a conference hall video. This is a crystal clear 60fps video from Boston Dynamics themselves with a few juicy details to go along with it. Chief among them (for us anyway) is that this prototype has a battery range of about 15 miles between charges. The efficiency is due in large part to the wheeled nature of the beast. It balances on two wheels, but the design attaches those wheels to two fully articulated legs rather than directly to the frame of the body.

The result is a quadruped that is distinctly not human in appearance but can perform well in similar environments and with similar tasks. Handle is capable of offsetting its body weight, allowing the front limbs to pick up heavy objects while maintaining balance. The combination of both electric and hydraulic actuators let it perform feats like jumping over four-foot high objects. The independence of each wheel is shown off with ramps to simulate uneven terrain.

Bravo BD. We can’t wait to see Handle wheeling down the street placing smile-adorned boxes on each stoop as it revolutionizes home delivery. Oh, and kudos on the 80’s-style freeze frame at the end of the video below.

50 thoughts on “I Am Science Fiction Incarnate; I Am Handle

      1. Most Boston Dynamics videos feel like the intro/flashback montage of a dystopian sci-fi movie, especially when the engineers starting kicking the robots and beating them with hockey sticks.

  1. I’m much more curious about the flexibility of Boston Dynamics themselves, post Google sale and DARPA disentanglement. Is this intended for Toyota’s shop floor or Amazon’s warehouse?

        1. Japanese (ergo Chinese?) (buzzword ahead) modular temple building techniques. So nice, also allows you to have a 1800 temple actually be a 2017 temple, having replaced all the individual components, or put it somewhere else, no problem :) This thechnique allows for a mentality that trancends the finite idea of history, ownership, expiry date

    1. Shop floors and Warehouses have in common that they can be designed for machine accessibility. This robot’s main advantage is that it can work in areas not designed for machines, especially outdoors.

      I can see this as an autonomous/remote patrol vehicle or a “delivery guy”. But it would probably need serious supervision or remote control. It can master obstacles, but I guess planning and navigating with obstacles will be tougher.

      To me it screams military combat robot.

      1. I look forward to military combat robots.

        Imagine a world where wars and battles are fought remotely by machines instead of by people. No death, no destruction of people’s homes, just robots destroying robots until one side relents and a settlement is reached.

          1. Even if, perhaps due to unfathomable societal shifts, an entirely bloodless war came to pass, they’d just be producing robots until one country’s economy collapses, which isn’t exactly a “no death or destruction” outcome.

      2. Of course it’s a kill-bot. You could put an endless stream of ordinary guys in vans for what it costs to build this and keep it running. Unless it’s delivering giant diamonds to kings, who live in the middle of assault courses. Have BD claimed it’s NOT for killing brown people?

  2. Can’t wait to see in action,together with the fast dog style bot of same boston dynamics, once the finished product with guns will be disseminating “peace” to country of “insurgents” of third world, removing the risk of lose american lives more important than anyone of world.

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