Robotics

Wheeled, legged quadruped robot is now set to stand and deliver

Wheeled, legged quadruped robo...
The ANYmal robot could already walk on four legs and roll on four wheels, but now it can also stand up and balance on its rear wheels
The ANYmal robot could already walk on four legs and roll on four wheels, but now it can also stand up and balance on its rear wheels
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The Swiss-Mile Robot prepares to race a Tesla
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The Swiss-Mile Robot prepares to race a Tesla
The Swiss-Mile Robot deftly descends a set of stairs
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The Swiss-Mile Robot deftly descends a set of stairs
The ANYmal robot could already walk on four legs and roll on four wheels, but now it can also stand up and balance on its rear wheels
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The ANYmal robot could already walk on four legs and roll on four wheels, but now it can also stand up and balance on its rear wheels
View gallery - 3 images

ETH Zurich's ANYmal robot was already impressive back when it simply walked on four legs. It got more interesting when wheels were added to those legs, letting it both walk and roll. That wheeled version is now also able to stand up, and could soon be used for urban deliveries.

This latest incarnation of the ANYmal is being developed by ETH Zurich spinoff company Swiss-Mile, and is thus known as the Swiss-Mile Robot.

Like the original version, it has four legs. By locking up the wheels on the ends of those legs, it's still able to walk like a quadruped animal when necessary – this comes in particularly handy when it has to climb stairs, which would stymie most other wheeled robots.

For moving along sidewalks, floors and other flat surfaces, though, rolling is much faster and more energy-efficient than walking. That's where the motorized wheels come in, as they now allow this model to travel at speeds of up to 22 km/h (14 mph). As an added bonus, if the robot needs to roll down a set of stairs or off a curb, the legs flex to act as shock absorbers.

The Swiss-Mile Robot deftly descends a set of stairs
The Swiss-Mile Robot deftly descends a set of stairs

The bot utilizes a combination of GPS, LiDAR sensors and cameras to autonomously navigate city streets and avoid obstacles. We're told that it presently has a runtime of two hours per battery-charge.

And yes, it is now capable of standing up and rolling along on its rear wheels. When doing so, it's able to maintain its balance by continuously analyzing data from its onboard IMUs (inertial measurement units), and by analyzing measurements made by all 16 of its leg and wheel motors.

But what's the point in standing? ANYmal co-developer Dr. Marko Bjelonic tells us that by using its front legs as arms, the robot could grab packages from clients and then place them in a cargo compartment on its back. It would then go back down onto all fours, and transport those packages by quickly rolling along the street.

Plans call for the Swiss-Mile Robot to be commercially available starting sometime next year, at a yet-to-be-announced price. For now, you can see it in Tesla-racing, stair-climbing, rear-leg-balancing action in the video below.

The Future of Robotic Mobility

Source: Swiss-Mile

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7 comments
7 comments
Daishi
Wheels on robots with legs is new meta.
Sean-Anthony Sutherland
A tachicoma?
martinwinlow
All it needs now is a stun-gun or something to ward off wannabe robbers...
martinwinlow
...And when is this sort of tech going to make into a wheelchair? I'd have thought this would be a much more compelling market especially from the POV of a disabled person and probably more financially rewarding for the developers, too.
SSD
It is only a car if it carries a passenger. Otherwise a self propelled lawn mower is a car. A ride-on mower is more of a car than this. They can fix this by adding a seat on the ANYmal's back if it has the load capacity of a human and to martinwinlow's point could serve disabled persons too if carefully adapted.
WeiDalong
It has movement abilities similar to a horse`s. It`d be cool to put a saddle on it and take it for a romp.
Hi ho silver, here comes the lone ranger!
ljaques
Sub-$100k? Maybe. Add multiple rubber bullet cannons to protect itself and its cargo. (That ought to get a bite.) ;)
Boston Dynamics showed us the Handle robot in 2017, slightly different, so this is kinda old news.