In an unofficial video uploaded on Tuesday by a YouTube user “jurvetson,” Boston Dynamics is shown presenting its most recent robotic innovations. The presentation features a more in-depth look at the previously revealed dog-like robot called SpotMini and showcases an updated version of the company’s Atlas robot. The presenter and Boston Dynamics’ co-founder Marc Raibert also provided a look at a completely new robot called “Handle” which he affectionately described as being “nightmare-inducing.” Despite all of the difficulties the company has faced since joining Google’s subsidiary X in 2013, rigorous work has apparently continued.
Raibert begins the presentation by walking attendees through a video of SpotMini, highlighting its relatively small size, sensory input systems, and reflexive capabilities. He goes on to describe several household tasks that the robot can complete thanks to its unique arm stabilization system but explains that the system is not yet perfect. Shifting focus, the video then moves on to show the company’s second-generation Atlas robot. Atlas is a bipedal humanoid workhorse, designed to complete a wide array of tasks. Boston Dynamics has been working hard to improve on the design of the first Atlas and the second iteration is much closer in size and weight to an actual human. In the video, it is shown lifting and moving moderately heavy objects at speeds much closer to “human speeds” than the previous version. Raibert says that the upgrade allows the robot to use its entire body, giving it the ability to move and work in a way that is much more natural. He goes on to explain that it is also being tolerance-tested to handle unpredictable circumstances. To visualize that point, an engineer is shown deliberately interrupting the task that the robot is trying to complete. The robot is also shown working with a human to transport and put down a stretcher in a balanced and controlled way.
Handle is the last robot to be shown in the presentation video. Raibert revealed that this product is an experiment by Boston Dynamics as the company wanted to see if it can create a more cost-effective robot that can still accomplish tasks similar to the company’s bipedal models. Handle was cheaper to manufacture due to its simplified legs that use wheels instead of feet, with the hardware above the legs helping the robot to constantly balance itself. Raibert explains that the name “Handle” was chosen because the robot will eventually be able to handle objects. The robot is apparently extremely agile and can quickly move with precision. At one point, the robot is even shown jumping over a barrier before it continues rolling along.