Boston Dynamics makes a lot of weird stuff, and the videos showcasing the firm’s various creations have always struck fear into the hearts of anyone who anticipates robots one day enslaving humanity. If you’re one of those people, now would be a great time to look away, because Boston Dynamics just showed off a ultra creepy half-humanoid bot that can deftly maneuver on a pair of speedy wheels while balancing itself like a skilled skater.
Boston Dynamics calls the robot “Handle” because it’s supposed to eventually gain the ability to actually grab and carry things around, but its agility and speed are already impressive enough to drop a jaw or two. The robot uses its body weight to constantly monitor and adjust its balance so that it never tips over, and it can even launch itself into the air and land smoothly without issue.
Company founder Marc Raibert showed the bot off during a recent presentation which was captured by Steve Jurvetson who happened to be enjoy the show from the audience and whipped out his smartphone camera.
Raibert called Handle an “experiment in combining wheels with legs,” so it’s unclear just how far the company will go in continuing its development. That being said, it the design is actually much cheaper to manufacture than the many-legged bots Boston Dynamics is best known for. With Alphabet having put the company on the market last year, showing off its capabilities to produce more cost effective robots is probably a good look when would-be buyers come calling.