Boston Dynamics, the firm that introduced the world to human-like robots going for a job and Black Mirror-style demon dogs, has revealed its latest creation.
The machine is called Handle and striking footage shows the automaton balancing on two wheels while lifting boxes and loading a pallet.
It whizzes around a large warehouse with impressive agility and uses an overhead sucker to lift and move its loads.
Boston Dynamics, the firm that introduced the world to human-like robots going for a job and Black Mirror-style demon dogs, has revealed its latest creation – a warehouse loading machine
Handle was first introduced in 2017 but this version has undergone significant changes.
The robot is larger and carries less weight – a maximum load of 30 pounds (13.5kg) – compared to its predecessor which could carry boxes weighing up to 100 pounds (45kg).
Boston Dynamics also opted to replace the two arms of the original design with an overhead sucker.
Boston Dynamics said: ‘Handle autonomously performs mixed SKU pallet building and depalletising after initialisation and localising against the pallets.
‘The on-board vision system on Handle tracks the marked pallets for navigation and finds individual boxes for grasping and placing.’
Handle (pictured) has been widely overshadowed by other models in the Boston Dynamics range, the Spot and Atlas which made headlines around the world last year
Handle has been largely overshadowed by other machines manufactured by the company.
Atlas and Spot/Spot Mini hit headlines around the world when the company unveiled their startling capabilities.
Videos emerged of its terrifying Atlas robot running and jumping over obstacles with ease in 2018.
In one, Atlas, a humanoid robot, can be seen jogging around a grassy field, before leaping over a log that’s obstructing its path.
In the second, a SpotMini robo-dog navigates its way around an office building, climbing and descending a set of stairs with ease, all under its own direction.
The canine automatons look eerily similar to those featured in an episode of the sci-fi series, where mechanised creatures hunt humans in a post-apocalyptic future.
Boston Dynamics, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, manually steered SpotMini around its test course to prepare for the demonstration.
Handle was first introduced in 2017 but this iteration has undergone significant changes. The robot is larger and carries less weight – a maximum load of 30 pounds – compared to its predecessor (pictured) which had two arms and could move up to 100 pounds
WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ SPOT MINI ROBO-DOG?
Boston Dynamics first showed off SpotMini, the most advanced robot dog ever created, in a video posted in November 2017.
The firm, best known for Atlas, its 5 foot 9 (1.7 metre) humanoid robot, has revealed a new ‘lightweight’ version of its robot Spot Mini.
The robotic canine was shown trotting around a yard, with the promise that more information from the notoriously secretive firm is ‘coming soon’.
‘SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that comfortably fits in an office or home’ the firm says on its website.
It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb) when you include the robotic arm.
SpotMini is all-electric and can go for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing, the firm says, boasting ‘SpotMini is the quietest robot we have built.’
SpotMini was first unveiled in 2016, and a previous version of the mini version of spot with a strange extendable neck has been shown off helping around the house.
In the firm’s previous video, the robot is shown walking out of the firm’s HQ and into what appears to be a home.
There, it helps load a dishwasher and carries a can to the trash.
It also at one point encounters a dropped banana skin and falls dramatically – but uses its extendable neck to push itself back up.
‘SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built, the firm says, due to its electric motors.
‘It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs.
‘These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation.
‘SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.’
This let it create a map of the office space using its on-board cameras.
Once it has achieved this goal, it can use this new found knowledge to autonomously navigate its way around, which is what we see in the footage.
It shows SpotMini using its cameras to work out where it is in the office, by comparing what it sees to the data in its stored map.
It then begins to explore the the space, using those same cameras to avoid any obstacles.
The machine effortlessly finds its way through narrow corridors, open spaces both inside and outside the workplace, and even up and down a staircase.
In a written statement, a spokesman for the firm said: ‘SpotMini autonomously navigates a specified route through an office and lab facility.
‘Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot.
‘During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles.
In the second video, refinements to the Atlas’ robot are on show, displaying how naturally the humanoid machine is able to move around.
The battery powered can be seen tackling a flat grassy area, gentle slopes, and other outdoor terrain.
It’s log leap is not surprising from a bot that we have previously seen performing backflips, but its movements seem less stiff than in previous clips.
The SpotMini is a small four-legged robot that ‘comfortably fits in an office or home,’ the firm said.
It weighs 25 kg (55 lb), or 30 kg (66 lb), when you include the robotic arm.
WHAT IS BOSTON DYNAMICS’ ATLAS HUMANOID ROBOT?
Atlas the most human-like robot in Boston Dynamic’s line-up.
It was first unveiled to the public on 11 July 11 2013.
According to the company, Atlas is a ‘high mobility, humanoid robot designed to negotiate outdoor, rough terrain’.
Atlas measures 1.5m (4.9ft) tall and weighs 75kg (11.8st).
The humanoid walks on two legs, leaving its arms free to lift, carry, and manipulate objects in its environment.
Atlas is able to hold its balance when it is jostled or pushed by an external force. Should it fall over, the humanoid robot is capable of getting up again on its own
Stereo vision, range sensing and other sensors allow Atlas to walk across rough terrain and keep its balance.
‘In extremely challenging terrain, Atlas is strong and coordinated enough to climb using hands and feet, to pick its way through congested spaces,’ Boston Dynamics claims.
Atlas is able to hold its balance when it is jostled or pushed.
If the humanoid robot should fall over, it can get up on its own.
Atlas is designed to help emergency services in search and rescue operations.
The robot will be used to shut-off valves, opening doors and operate powered equipment in environments where human rescuers could not survive.
The US Department of Defence said it has no interest in using Atlas in warfare.
Atlas is capable of —
- Standing up after falling over
- Balancing on a narrow beam
- Cleaning, including vacuuming and sweeping
- Karate kick
- Throwing a paper aeroplane