Boston Dynamics’ latest robo-creature may be cuter than its creepy robot dogs, but its potential application could nevertheless make warehouse workers wary.
The Handle robot, demonstrated in a YouTube video posted on March 28, is a long-necked robot that looks a lot like a two-wheeled mechanical ostrich. The robot’s “head” features an arrangement of suction cups that can pick up boxes from a pallet, and then release them to make a neat stack.
“SpotMini is in pre-production now. We’ve built 10 units that’s a design that’s close to a manufacturable design. We built them in-house, but with help from contract, manufacturing-type people,” Raibert said.
“We have a plan later this year to build 100 with contract manufacturers,” he said, “and that’s the prelude to getting them in a higher-rate production which we hope to start in the middle of next year.”
Raibert declined to say what the price will be. Potential applications could range from surveillance to office deliveries to home chores.
In the latest creepy video from the roboticists at Boston Dynamics, one four-legged, doglike SpotMini robot walks up to a closed door, seems to peer up at the latch, then backs away to wait for another SpotMini to come around the corner.
The second robot has a mechanical arm where its head should be. It uses a hand to turn the latch, pull open the door, and keep holding it open while both robots traipse on through.
Musk suggested that future robots could move so fast they could match the fictional Flash, who eludes his comic-book foes by moving too fast for the eye to see. Compared to that superpower, doing human-level backflips is “nothing,” Musk said in a tweet.
A newly released video shows the company’s next-generation, two-legged Atlas robot keeping its balance while it walks through the woods on a rough, snowy trail. But things get really eerie when Atlas is put in a warehouse setting, where the robot picks up boxes and slides them onto shelves. It just keeps going, even when a bothersome human takes a hockey stick and slaps the box out of its arms.
When the human goes into full Terminator mode and pushes Atlas over, the machine pushes itself back on its knees, straightens up, and just walks out the door.