ANYmal, the quadrupedal robot from the ETH Zurich, already made an impression when he just walked: today he also has wheels, plus he gets up on his feet. Get over the first shock and get ready for the second - it could soon be used for urban deliveries.
This latest incarnation of ANYmal for future deliveries was developed by the spin-off company of ETH Zurich Swiss-Mile and is therefore known as the Swiss-Mile Robot.
Four legs, four wheels, a great desire for life
The robot has four legs. It can lock the wheels at the ends of these legs so you can walk like a quadruped when needed. This is useful when climbing stairs, as most other wheeled robots have a hard time doing this.
This model is more energy efficient than walking. It can go up to 22 kilometers per hour. As an added bonus, if the robot needs to roll down a flight of stairs or a sidewalk, its legs flex to act as shock absorbers.
How ANYmal is made, a transformer for deliveries
The robot is guided by a combination of GPS, sensors LiDAR and cameras to navigate the city streets and avoid challenges without human assistance. We're told it has a two hour battery life on a single charge at the moment.
The highlight? I told you: now this thing stands up and moves on its rear wheels, like Transformer. When it does, it is able to maintain its balance by continuously analyzing data from its onboard IMUs (inertial measurement units) and analyzing the measurements made by all 16 of its leg and wheel motors.
But what's the point of standing? ANYmal co-developer Dr. Marko Bjelonic says that using its front legs as arms, the robot could grab packages from customers and then place them in a cargo compartment in the back. Then he'd come back on all fours to carry those packages quickly down the road.
Plans call for the Swiss-Mile robot to be commercially available starting next year, at a price yet to be announced. For now, you can see him in the video below as he shows us a piece of his bright future.