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This horrifyingly nimble, leaping robot is here to replace you

Hey, check this motherfucker out! “Handle” here is the latest creation of Boston Dynamics, a.k.a. the mad scientists who created that sentient doglike thing you see scrambling over an autumnal hellscape toward you in your dreams. Watch this asshole pick up 100 pounds, zip around and stop on a dime, roll down some stairs, leap over a traffic cone, buzz cleanly over uneven terrain, unlock the window to your home, fold itself mechanically through the frame, tuck your children into bed, put on all of your clothes, begin living your life better and stronger and more efficiently than you, and finally chase you into a dusky meadow and kill you so it can wear your flesh.

Some of those items are not corroborated by the video, but seem likely. Its very humanness is part of what makes it work. In an analysis on Wired, Matt Simon notes the robot’s improvements over the old “Big Dog” quadrupedal robot:

What Boston Dynamics has done with Handle is take what natural selection has crafted—the human form—and turned it into a more efficient chimera. It’s created an evolutionary marvel.

Don’t get me wrong—the human body is a masterpiece of evolution. Walking on two legs frees up our hands, for one, allowing us to manipulate our environment. But it also has its drawbacks. Two legs are far less stable than four. That’s not so much a problem for humans with years of practice, but a serious problem if you’re trying to build a bipedal robot that doesn’t fall on its face.

Should you crack that problem, though, you have a machine that can navigate a world built for humans like a human. It can climb stairs and open doors. Hell, it could even drive a car if need be. Creating robots in our image is part egomania, sure, but it’s more about inventing machines that could one day explore places made for bipeds.

Let’s leave Earth to these guys and go colonize TRAPPIST-1.

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