Footage showing an incredibly agile new robot from Boston Dynamics has leaked onto the internet. The video shows a robot called 'Handle', thus named for its ability to carry objects around. What is remarkable about this robot is its bipedal and wheeled manoeuvrability and speed; it can swiftly turn in the tightest corners and even jump/skip over obstacles. Its ability on smooth and level surfaces has been variously described as nightmarish and terrifying.
Boston Dynamics has impressed us previously with its other robot creations such as robo-dogs, and even seasonal robo-deer. Those were four legged 'beasts' but 'Handle' with its two legs ending in a pair of wheels rather than feet looks to move much more gracefully and deftly.
The story behind the leaked footage, via Gizmodo, is that Venture Capitalist Steve Jurvetson was at a presentation given by Boston Dynamics' founder Marc Raibert. The presentation was uploaded by Jurvetson but later blurred at Boston Dynamics' request. However it was too late and the footage was duplicated and spread about YouTube already. Raibert describes Handle as an experiment in combining wheels with legs.
As you can see, Handle carries a kind of back pack in this video but whether or not that is how it can carries loads around, its self-balancing abilities are good enough that it can carry objects in one or both hands and still nip about with aplomb.
In related news The Register reports on "invisible gel robo-eels snatch live fish". These malleable transparent robots were designed by a group of engineers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. With their hydrogel skins, the researchers think that such 'soft robotics' may be more useful for medical and surgical procedures than for catching fish.