If you ignore toys and novelties, robots are generally designed to do one of two things: perform more efficiently than humans can, or to tackle jobs that humans won’t — or can’t — do. The former group consists largely of industrial robots that can handle repetitive tasks quickly and with high precision. The latter category, however, is where things start to get really interesting. That’s the domain of quadruped robots, like those made famous by Boston Dynamics. Now ANYbotics is throwing their hat into the commercial ring with the new ANYmal C quadruped robot.
As the name suggests, ANYmal C isn’t the first robot that ANYbotics has designed. But unlike earlier models, ANYmal C is polished and ready for production. It is roughly the size of an average dog, weighs in at 50kg, and moves around on four powerful legs. Thanks to a host of sensors, including lidar, it can map its environment in three dimensions and navigate autonomously. It’s capable of moving at one meter per second, can climb smooth slopes up to 20 degrees and stairs up to 45 degrees, and can squeeze through relatively narrow passages. ANYmal C can run for up to two hours on a single battery charge, and then autonomously charge itself back up at a special cone-shaped docking station.
ANYmal C is intended primarily to perform inspections in environments that are unsuitable, or simply uncomfortable, for humans. It’s IP67 rated, which means it is completely dust proof and can even handle being submerged under a meter of water for up to an hour. It can carry up to 10kg, and can be equipped with a wide range of sensors and data-gathering equipment. That makes ANYmal C ideal for inspection work in industrial areas. For example, the robot could easily navigate through a potentially hazardous mine to determine if it’s safe for humans to enter. Only time will tell if there is really a commercial market for a robot like this, but it certainly looks promising.