ANYmal C robot is made for walking – and inspecting
It was a couple of years ago that we first heard about the ANYmal, a quadruped robot developed by ETH Zurich spin-off ANYbotics. Now, the Swiss company has announced its new-and-improved ANYmal C.
Like the original model, along with those of a few other companies, the ANYmal C walks on four legs instead of rolling along on wheels. Among other things, this allows it to move over uneven terrain, maintain stability when bumped into, and even climb up and down stairs. As a result, locations where the robot is used typically don't need to be altered for accessibility in any way.
That brings us to the C model's main intended use, which is the inspection of industrial facilities such as gas plants.
It can be operated by remote control – letting users manually inspect areas that may be hazardous to humans – but it can also navigate autonomously. For either scenario, it's equipped with sensors including a LiDAR (light detection and ranging) unit; thermal, depth-sensing and optical cameras; a gas detector; and an LED spotlight. Some of these items are located on a pan/tilt module, that can swivel 360 degrees.
This setup not only lets the 50-kg (110-lb) robot see where it is within the plant and check for problems such as gas leaks and hotspots, but it also allows the C to avoid obstacles such as workers. Intel i7 Hexa-core processors additionally help with locomotion control, real-time mapping and autonomous navigation, plus an extra 10 kg (22 lb) of sensors or other gear can be added to the ANYmal's dust- and waterproof body.
One 3-hour charge of its battery pack should reportedly be good for at least two hours of use. When that battery starts getting low, the robot automatically proceeds to a docking station for recharging.
The ANYmal C was unveiled this week at the World Robot Conference in Beijing, and is now available for sale to industry partners who are interested in helping to field-test it. You can see it in action, in the following video.