Engineering 101

ANYmal Takes Strides for Robotics

Hiking trails can contain many types of terrain: dirt, scree, mud, and areas where tree roots snake out over the walking space. None of these are conducive to robot maneuvering. However, ANYmal, a quadrupedal robot from Robotic Systems Lab at ETH Zurich takes these obstacles in stride and, has hiked over 120 vertical meters (393 feet for those in the U.S.) in a 31 minute hike. Not only were there no mishaps, ANYmal took 4 fewer minutes than the estimated human time.

ANYmal’s creators presented their new control tech in the journal Science Robotics, explaining how their quadrapedal robot was able to make the hike. Their controller technology combines visual perception and proprioception, or sense of touch through ANYmal’s legs. The neural network combines these two types of perception for the first time, allowing the robot to traverse terrain that external perception alone would determine was impassable.

ANYmal was sent to a virtual training camp before he was let loose on the trail.

Marco Hutter, the robotics professor that lead the research, hopes that ANYmal can be used anywhere the terrain is too dangerous for humans.

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