Boston Dynamics unveils Handle, a 'nightmare-inducing' 2-wheeled, 4-legged robot

A robotics firm known for its ground-breaking robot inventions has unveiled the new "Terminator on wheels".

Called Handle, the 1.95cm-tall creation, which has four legs and two stabilised rear wheels that allow it to stand vertically, is capable of jumping up to 1.2m in the air.

It can reportedly lift 50kg loads and travels at a decent clip - whatever the terrain - of around 14kmh.

According to the Google-owned firm, the reason for the robot's hybrid design is the simplicity it offers: Handle eschews the need for the complex joints of its fully-quadrupedal brethren.

"Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex," said Boston Dynamics in its YouTube video of the robot released on Monday (Feb 27).

 

"Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds."

The Guardian reported that footage of Handle was leaked in early February, with even Boston Dynamics' founder Marc Raibert describing it as a "nightmare-inducing robot".

Google's parent company, Alphabet, put the firm up for sale last year in the wake of concerns over a lack of revenue potential and its fit within Alphabet's wider corporate culture.

Founded in 1992, Boston Dynamics began as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before it was purchased by Google in 2013.

Its founders started off by developing robots than ran and manoeuvred like animals, but in recent years it has become known for projects co-developed or funded by the US military, such as the hefty quadruped BigDog and its miniaturised version, Spot.