The amazing hybrid robots

Boston Dynamics shows its latest creation. The robot, named Handle, can stand on four legs, like previous creations, but at the end of its back two legs are two stabilised wheels, which let it stand up vertically and roll around at speeds of up to 9mph.

The robot can stand on four legs, like Boston Dynamics’ previous creations such as BigDog and Spot. But at the end of its back two legs are two stabilised wheels, which let it stand up vertically and roll around at speeds of up to nine miles per hour. Think “Terminator riding on a hoverboard” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the impression Handle gives off.

“Handle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principles found in the quadruped and biped robots we build,” Boston Dynamics said, “but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. 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 video does not, however, show Handle walking rather that scooting around on its wheels.

Spot is much smaller than the BigDog model previously released by the company in 2008. Instead of a 109 kilogram (240 pound) behemoth that tops out at traveling 6.4 kilometers per hour (4 miles per hour), Spot is much leaner at 73 kilograms (160 pounds) and though its official top speed has not been announced, it easily outpaces its older sibling while climbing up a hill.

While BigDog was designed to haul up to 155 kilograms (340 pounds) of equipment, Spot was meant to be more dextrous and deft. Spot is better able to navigate difficult areas both inside and outside more quickly and easily than BigDog.

As you’ll see in the video, the robot can’t be kicked over. Even on an icy, slippery parking lot, Spot scrambles to remain on its feet after being shoved. This is actually more important of a feature than it might immediately seem. It’s hard not to anthropomorphize a bit and feel bad for the robot, who almost seems a bit dejected after recovering from a hit, but it demonstrates how well Spot is able to remain upright when traversing hostile territory.

SpotMini is a new smaller version of the Spot robot, weighing 55 lbs dripping wet (65 lbs if you include its arm.) SpotMini is all-electric (no hydraulics) and runs for about 90 minutes on a charge, depending on what it is doing. SpotMini is one of the quietest robots we have ever built. It has a variety of sensors, including depth cameras, a solid state gyro (IMU) and proprioception sensors in the limbs. These sensors help with navigation and mobile manipulation. SpotMini performs some tasks autonomously, but often uses a human for high-level guidance.

Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot, which previously demonstrated its ability to walk across rough terrain and take all kinds of abuse from its creators, has now mastered a new, and even more terrifying skill: balancing on one foot.

This is a level of coordination that many humans will struggle with, and this robot makes it seem effortless. This is even more remarkable considering that it was only learning how to stand up a few months ago, and considering that the world's premier robot competition tends to have a lot of falling over. You'd better start preparing for the robot wars now, because by the look of this video, they're coming sooner than you think.

The Cheetah robot has an articulated back that flexes back and forth on each step, increasing its stride and running speed, much like the animal does. The current version of the Cheetah robot runs on a high-speed treadmill in the laboratory where it is powered by an off-board hydraulic pump and uses a boom-like device to keep it running in the center of the treadmill. The next generation Cheetah robot, WildCat, is designed to operate untethered.

It’s the miniature version of the famous Big Dog for military use. This robotic mule is able to transport material autonomously in hostile terrain. It’s fascinating just how much this little quadruped robot looks like a real animal.

The little dog has four paws each with 3 electric motors. Its sensors can measure angles, the distance in relation to the ground and the orientation of its body. Thus, this Little Dog can climb all alone on rough terrain without falling or getting stuck.

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