If they really were the ideal way of getting around, then billions of years of evolution would certainly have hit on the idea of giving one animal or another wheels or caterpillar tracks. However all land animals, with a few notable exceptions, have legs. It's little wonder then, that robot developers have jumped on this template and set out to emulate nature’s preferred motor system as closely as possible in their creations. One person who has proven particularly gifted at doing just that is Marco Hutter, a Professor at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zurich. Having secured an internationally awarded grant, he sat down to develop ANYmal, a four-legged walking robot with truly impressive capabilities that is to be unveiled at HANNOVER MESSE 2017.
ANYmal has joints with very similar dynamic properties to those of equivalents found in the animal world. For example, ANYmal can walk, run, negotiate stairs, creep, dance, climb, and jump - naturally with a gently cushioned landing. "We want a robot that can navigate obstacles, move fast and at the same time be energy efficient and robust," says Hutter, who at the moment is exploring the world of industrial marketing with his ETH spin-off ANYbotics AG. In fact, ANYmal has worked so well that it can also be used on rough terrain and in inhospitable climates. A whole array of sensors help ANYmal to continuously survey its surroundings so that its deployment can be planned and executed as autonomously as possible. What's more, at just 30 kilograms, ANYmal is handy enough to be picked up and carried, if need be.