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Intelligent Machines

Boston Dynamics Has a New “Nightmare-Inducing” Robot

The makers of some of the world’s most impressive robots usually develop machines that walk—adding wheels has resulted in something fast, and frightening.

Say hello to Handle, the latest robot to be developed by the Google-owned Boston Dynamics. But unlike its siblings, Handle doesn’t walk: it rolls.

Gizmodo reports that the robot was shown to investors at a presentation given by Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert. While it hasn't been officially announced by the company, one attendee posted his recording of the video to YouTube.

Usually, robots made by Boston Dynamics roam on two or four legs. This one, however, has wheels at the end of its two limbs. It’s a complex engineering problem, staying upright on two wheels like that, and Raibert says that the robot is constantly shifting weight to stay balanced. Unlike its brethren, that means it's not great at tackling rough ground. But it makes up for that with speed—oh, and it can jump, too. 

Raibert calls it “a nightmare-inducing robot,” and like many of Boston Dynamics's creations, it is a bit frightening. But the company appears to have a useful purpose for it in mind. The video shows it handling a series of different, heavy objects in warehouse-like situations. There, of course, its inability to handle rough terrain wouldn’t matter, as it could glide across smooth concrete floors, reaching up to high shelves along the way. And, perhaps, occasionally scare people out of their wits.

(Read more: Gizmodo, “This Robot Crosses Rough Ground Like a Human Does,” “The Latest Boston Dynamics Creation Escapes the Lab, Roams the Snowy Woods,” “The Robots Running This Way”)

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