Saturday, May 18, 2024

Wheeled-legged ANYmal robot designed for autonomous last-mile deliveries

In 2018, researchers from the ETH Zurich presented their new ANYmal robot, a quadruped capable of dancing and reminiscent of the Boston Dynamics Spot robot. That technology has just been spun out into a company called Swiss-Mile, which wants to commercialize wheel-legged robots.

The Swiss-Mile company has now proposed a multimodal robot ANYmal with wheels and legs unifying unique properties that make it a general-purpose solution for smart freight logistic systems. The result is a very agile robot, able to crawl, stand up, overcome obstacles, go up and down the stairs, and more and much faster than other four-legged robots.

The robot’s abilities make it a 3 in 1 machine – a car, quadruped, and humanoid – with driving at speeds of up to 22 km/h (over 13 mph). It can already efficiently overcome flat terrains, go over obstacles like steps and stairs, and carry heavy payloads in indoor and outdoor spaces. The ANYmal uses its wheels to reach up to 22 km/h (14 mph). It was developed as a versatile platform for last-mile deliveries, capable of outperforming lightweight delivery drones and other such vehicles.

The amazing thing is that this robot also works in bipedal mode, standing on its two rear wheels. This mode was designed specifically for delivery services. The robot uses its front legs as arms, grabs the packages, and puts them in its cargo compartment. It then returns to quadruped mode to move quickly and bring the package to its destination.

ANYmal is equipped with LiDAR sensors, GPS and can carry tools, goods, sensors, materials, and other items, both in indoor and outdoor spaces. The company claims its robot is 83% more efficient than legged systems and has a maximum payload of 50 kg (110 lb). It presently has a runtime of two hours per battery charge.

Swiss-Mile wants to commercialize wheel-legged robots for a wide variety of tasks, including mapping, inspection, disaster relief, and logistics in urban environments. The robot will be available for sale next year, but the manufacturer has yet to announce the price.