YouTube/Boston Dynamics
Handle mid-flight.
COWABOTGA

Boston Dynamics’ new robot is more radical than you

By Mike Murphy

The robots are coming—for the X Games.

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company owned by Alphabet, previewed its latest robot, Handle, at a conference in Los Angeles earlier this month. As part of the conference, Boston Dynamics’ founder, Marc Raibert, introduced a short video of the robot, calling it “nightmare-inducing.” Today, the company uploaded an extended version, including new footage of the bot completing some pretty extreme tricks.

Handle, as its name suggests, is designed to move things around. Many clips in the video show the robot lifting heavy loads with its awkward backward-facing arms with ease. But then, a lot also focus on how nimble the robot is: There are multiple shots of it spinning around in tight circles, rolling down a flight of stairs backwards, and sliding down a snowy hill with ease. The video also shows Handle riding up ramps with one leg, leaping over obstacles, and even hopping up on long tables, rolling along, and jumping down with a level of deftness that’s rarely found outside of athletes like Tony Hawk and Shaun White.

It’s not entirely clear why Handle needs to be so great at extreme-sport maneuvers, given that Raibert previously said the robot is intended to be a low-cost load-lifting robot. But if the X Games ever launches a non-human division, Handle will surely be a lock for gold. Otherwise, perhaps it can take part in a welterweight division of a future robot-fighting league.