Boston Dynamics is making a return to the robot scene. This time it's with a re-designed version of "The Handle" robot from 2017. The bird-like robot's (2017 version was a humanoid) priority will be to stack boxes in a warehouse, and there's no stopping this crafty machine. The machine is only a prototype for now, and the company behind it hasn't made any plans to turn it into a commercial product.
Originally, Handle was intended to be an experiment that used Boston Dynamics' robot with wheels. The upgraded version of the Handle has an improved look and some handy features. Boston Dynamics used its original design and gave it more functionality than before. The machine can stack and unstack boxes full of products in a warehouse. Imagining the robots pacing around a warehouse, grabbing boxes and stacking them has never been so easy.
Boston Dynamics' robot, Handle stacking boxes on a pallet in a warehouse setting. (Image Credit: Boston Dynamics)
According to Boston Dynamics, the robot is capable of lifting boxes up to 33-pounds quite easily. Even though demonstrations in the video show it lifting 11-pound boxes. They can even stack the boxes up to 5.5 feet tall and 4 feet deep. The robot also comes bundled with on-board vision cameras to help it locate the necessary boxes to grab and track the pellets it's supposed to take them to and from. It also has one arm that sits atop of the robot, making it look more like a bird. Handle also has a feature called "force control," allowing the robot to stack boxes neatly.
Some concerns about the robots eventually taking over human workers in a factory was evident based on comments made by viewers. Though humans may perform tasks quicker, the robots will not have any problems with endurance and can work at a steady pace.
The Handle is also less complex than other machines due to its 10 actuated joints geared towards high-performance manipulation. It has the same foundation for balance, mobile manipulation and dynamics used in quadruped and biped robots.
Handle is also different in appearance from other robots designed by Boston Dynamics. It's not intended for military use in combat and search and rescue missions. This makes Handle one of the most useful job-oriented robots Boston Dynamics has ever developed. IE: Less scary.
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