Swiss company Swiss Mile’s ANYmal robot is breaking new ground in the realm of robotics with its remarkable versatility and ability to tackle tasks in a rather amusing manner. ANYmal is a quadruped robot that can navigate on wheels or stand on its hind legs, using its front wheels as hands. This hybrid design allows for efficient movement across various terrains, including stairs.
In its quadruped mode, ANYmal resembles a robot dog with wheels, providing stable and efficient locomotion. However, recognizing the need for humanoid capabilities in certain scenarios, the robot can transition to a bipedal mode by standing up and using its motorized wheels for balance. This flexibility allows ANYmal to adapt to tasks originally designed for humans.
A noteworthy aspect of ANYmal’s development is its unconventional approach to learning and performing tasks. Instead of relying on complex reward schemes or extensive demonstrations, the team at Swiss Mile has introduced a technique known as “curiosity-driven learning.” In this method, the robot is given a task, rewarded only upon completion, and encouraged to explore and interact with objects related to the goal. This approach minimizes the need for extensive human intervention and allows the robot to learn by itself.
In a demonstration, ANYmal showcased its ability to perform tasks such as pressing elevator buttons using its wheels as hands. The robot’s curiosity-driven learning technique has proven effective, with impressive results like successfully opening doors and placing boxes into bins without specific task-oriented programming.
What sets ANYmal apart, and adds a touch of humor to its capabilities, is its unique method of accomplishing tasks. When faced with the goal of putting a box into a bin, ANYmal has learned to pick up the box and toss it into the bin – a method reminiscent of airport baggage handlers.
Although currently a research project, Swiss Mile’s ANYmal has the potential to revolutionize the field of robotics, combining the advantages of humanoid form with the efficient locomotion of a wheeled quadruped. As the team explores the commercialization of this innovative robot, it could become a game-changer in various industries, showcasing the fascinating possibilities that arise from merging agility and adaptability in robotic design.