Google-owned robotics firm and nightmare factory Boston Dynamics has released video of its latest creation: a two-wheeled, four-legged hybrid robot named Handle.
Boston Dynamics described the combination of legs and wheels as the best of both worlds. The wheels make Handle energy efficient on flat surfaces. (It has a 15-mile range on one charge.) With legs it’s able to manage uneven terrain, and go nearly anywhere.
Boston Dynamics says the reason for the hybrid design is the simplicity it affords: rather than needing the complex joints of the fully-quadrupedal bots, Handle’s wheels can speed it around with little difficulty, while its front legs can be used for balance and for carrying loads of up to 50kg.
In the video Handle rolls down steps, jumps over barriers and onto tables. It boasts a vertical leap of 48 inches, which compares favorably to great human athletes like the winners of the NBA’s dunk contest.
In the 96-second video, Handle also shows speed and agility. It can quickly accelerate to 9 miles per hour. Handle is also capable of carrying heavy loads, displaying its strength in one clip in which it lifts 100 pounds.
But don’t get too excited — the robot is still a research project. It’s unclear when, or if ever, we’ll see the robot operating in the real world.