'The robots are coming and they're after your job/girlfriend'

A new robot called Handle runs, jumps and carries your stuff. Will it make our lives better, or worse?

Google-owned robotics firm Boston Dynamics has released video of its latest creation: a two-wheeled, four-legged hybrid robot named Handle. The robot has been likened to “Terminator riding on a hoverboard”. Video: Boston Dynamics

 

The robots are no longer coming. In fact, they’re already here and at large and, if reports are to believed, they’re after your job/girlfriend/a starring spot in your nightmares.

But it needn’t be all that bad, and Boston Dynamics – an engineering and robotics design company best known for the development of BigDog, a quadruped robot designed for the US military – have unveiled their niftiest bot to date: Handle.

At 6.5 feet tall and built much like a horse on wheels, Handle can travel at speeds of up to 9mph and jump up to four feet in the air. But unlike any horse you’ve ever come across, Handle is also pretty light on his . . . wheels.

We have a small window of time before Handle and his cohorts become our new overlords, and there are plenty of ways of making use of Handle while we still can.

1. Dance partner

Literally no Irish man, not even Michael Flatley, can match the niftiness of Handle. Like a Daft Punk video star, he will show every nightclubber in the land up for the loose-limbed, tanked up berk that they are. On the downside, Handle will probably ensure you never have sex again.

2. Late Late Show host stand-in

Between radio and television, Ryan Tubridy is one busy man. He needs a well-earned break. But who to man the rudder in his absence? Handle might just be the wordless charmer that the nation needs of a Friday night.

3. Strong, silent confidante

Remember the conversations we had with early iterations of Siri (“Why did the chickens cross the road?” “I have no particular insight into the motivations of chickens”). We soon got bored asking Siri if it (a) could rap or (b) fancied us. Amazon’s Alexa is a bit of a know-it-all, and in much the same way that people are hankering for the simple salad days of the Nokia 3310, the time will come that we just want our bots to say nothing. Handle looks like a guy who could take a secret to the grave. Or wherever robots to go die.

4. Court appearances

What judge in the land would dare argue with Handle if he turned up in your stead to address a parking offence or tax quibble? Six and a half feet, guys.

5. Child’s toy

Helicopter parenting is so 2011. These young FaceChatFlakes need to learn a thing or two about risk and danger, and Handle’s top speed of 9mph is just the ticket.

6. Moving house

Handle can not only lift 100 pounds of cargo at a time, he can make his way downstairs with the slightest of ease. Man with a white van, your days are officially numbered.

7. Olympic representative

Ireland has had no shortage of Olympic glory, but we’ve yet to make a real splash in either the figure-skating or long jump categories (well, not since Peter O’Connor anyway, who died in 1957). Fine, Handle won’t be one for shedding tears of emotion at the opening strains of the national anthem. V2.0 might be able to wave a bouquet, though.

8. New wave Irish model

The “bikini on Grafton Street” brigade has long departed for the warmer climes of Blogland, but lookit, those lottery tickets and diabetes awareness campaigns aren’t likely to publicise themselves. Handle won’t mind the vagaries of the cold city centre, and will be well able to deal with hecklers.

9. Irish football team player

With the greatest respect to Darren Randolph, Kieran Westwood and Colin Doyle, a bot that can hop and jump could really help raise our game. Not sure whether Handle has the cat-like reflexes to go all the way, but we can dream.

10. Dancing With The Stars contestant

What could have been if only Des Cahill and Handle (CahHan? DesDle?) had joined forces…

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