Boston Dynamics Showcases New Bipedal Robot Designed for Logistics

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Boston Dynamics earned a reputation for designing very impressive but also slightly unsettling robots over the years. The company’s latest project is no different. Aptly dubbed “Handle”, the new robot looks like a mechanical flightless bird on wheels that was designed specifically with logistics in mind.

Judging by the recent video posted by Boston Dynamics on YouTube, Handle is a lot better at manipulating objects when compared to the company’s previous projects. Not only that but the bipedal robot also seems faster and more maneuverable that some of the other designs we’ve seen in the past.

The Second Iteration of Handle Looks a Lot More Useful Than the First

If the name ‘Handle’ sounds familiar that’s because this isn’t the first Boston Dynamics robot to use that name. The company showcased another Handle robot back in 2017 that looked a lot more humanoid and could jump up to 4 feet in the air. The new design kept the two-wheeled legs found on the original but lost its jumping capabilities along with its arms in the process.

The current version of Handle comes equipped with a single jointed arm ending in an array of suction cups that allow the robot to grab and manipulate various objects. If the aforementioned video is anything to go by, Boston Dynamics seems to be primarily interested in tasking Handle with finding and arranging boxes.

Handle is seen manipulating 5 Kg (11 lbs) boxes in the video but the company says the robot can lift boxes that are three times as heavy. Thanks to its front-facing visual sensors, Handle can autonomously pick up boxes from nearby shelves and stack them on top of each other or place them on a conveyor belt.

Aside from the humanoid-looking Atlas and the original Handle, all the other Boston Dynamics robots were designed to resemble various animals. Whether intentional or not, the new Handle looks very much like a mechanic ostrich or emu.

The creepiness factor we’ve come to expect from Boston Dynamics is definitely there but Handle doesn’t look quite as unsettling as the WildCat or the BigDog. In fact, this new robot looks quite useful and probably something that companies like Amazon will probably want to buy en masse in the near future.

Jason Moth

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