NSK service robot technology supports frontline healthcare

NSK is working to assist society by developing new service robot technology, including robotic devices for moving patients in medical settings. In October 2021, the company joined a Japanese government initiative to implement robotic technology in hospitals and help prevent the spread of Covid-19. NSK is now working to develop its robotic technologies further through dialogue with frontline medical staff.

New robots are currently in development around the world to assist humans and help solve societal issues. As part of this effort, NSK wants to create robots for use in settings where many people are moving around, including medical facilities and hospitals. The company’s smooth movement and low noise technologies are ideal for robotic applications in this field.

Among the candidates for development at the initial planning stage was an autonomous mobile robot. However, after observing the inner workings of a hospital, with its narrow corridors and high footfall rates, NSK concluded that a motorised assistance robot which could help staff during patient transfer would be a more useful contribution to workplace efficiency.

The company knew that its proposed robot could reduce the physical burden on medical staff and help facilitate work-style reform in the healthcare sector. Based on this approach, the company built a robotic prototype that helps staff to move heavy objects such as stretchers and trolleys in hospitals. As part of the Japanese government initiative, NSK is currently demonstrating the use of its motorised assistance robot at a major hospital. The end goal is eventual adoption by the healthcare sector for daily use.

NSK is focusing on essential user issues when developing the assist robot, deploying idea verification in short cycles. For example, rather than spending three years to develop the robot in its entirety, NSK is seeking feedback from customers every three months, implementing improvements incrementally during the development process.

The robot developed by NSK uses a motor drive that facilitates smooth starting and acceleration, as well as deceleration and tight turns. NSK ultimately wants to create a usable robot that fits user requirements, leveraging its know-how to aid people working in frontline healthcare. Innovative projects of this type support the company’s ethos of better meeting the needs of society, while simultaneously creating opportunities for new business growth.

igus igumania game

Igus igumania game. Build your own Mars Rover assembling automation factory and improve it with @igusgmbh products. Enjoy this new game soon in your Webbrowser and on other plattforms. Get to know Rusty the robot and Dave the igus employee while learning about igus smart plastics products and low cost Automation. I really enjoyed playing this game, mainly for one reason: robots 😉

57% of Manufacturers Say Robots Aren’t Taking Human Jobs

Veo Robotics’ 2022 Manufacturing Automation Outlook finds that human-robot collaboration has risen for 6 out of 10 manufacturers in the last year, as facilities turn to automation to supplement workers


57% of global manufacturers believe that robots are not replacing human workers in their facilities, but rather working alongside humans to supplement their work. This is one of the significant findings from Veo Robotics’ 2022 Manufacturing Automation Outlook, released today by the industrial automation company that created FreeMove®, a comprehensive 3D safeguarding system for industrial robots that powers dynamic human-robot collaboration.

The Outlook also found that 61% of manufacturers say that human-robot interaction within their facilities has increased over the last year. The data point highlights how humans increasingly work alongside robot co-workers post-pandemic as manufacturers grapple with inflation, ongoing supply chain issues, and unprecedented labor shortages. Nearly all manufacturers are looking to automate more operations, including turning to robots to handle mundane, repetitive, or overly risky tasks.

With North American robot purchases reaching a record high in 2021, and global sales expected to increase to $31B by 2028, Veo Robotics surveyed more than 500 manufacturers across the US, UK, and Japan to inform the Outlook and explore how these organizations are integrating robots into their workforce, as well as the resulting impacts on facilities and their human workers. As speculation about the effect of robots on local jobs markets continues to contribute to mixed public opinion, Veo Robotics’ data suggests most manufacturing professionals do not believe that their jobs are at risk due to the increased adoption of robots.

“Our findings highlight that the majority of manufacturers are increasing automation with the goal of robots working alongside human co-workers rather than directly replacing them,” said Patrick Sobalvarro, CEO and co-founder of Veo Robotics. “We find that using robots increases the productivity and the value of human workers, freeing them to use their intelligence, judgment, and dexterity in their work.”

The rise in interactions between human and machine co-workers also necessitates new safeguarding methods that don’t hinder productivity. Although 63% of manufacturers told Veo Robotics that they were at least “moderately satisfied” with their safety when interacting with robots, most (41%) say they keep their robots in fully-fenced, caged environments to prevent injury or harm to human workers. This reliance on fully caged robots often hinders modern manufacturing facilities‘ speed, efficiency, and flexibility.

In fact, 44% of manufacturers note that their workers need to enter workcells at least every 1-2 hours, making it unsurprising that 63% also report that their current workcell safeguarding solutions pose challenges in the form of limiting flexibility, increasing human workloads, constraining space, and slowing down production time.

Additional highlights from Veo Robotics’ 2022 Manufacturing Automation Outlook include:

  • Over 55% of manufacturers report having ten or more robots in their facilities, with nearly one in three (32%) saying they have 30 or more
  • 81% of manufacturers said they deal with robot-led production shutdowns
  • More than a fifth of respondents said that nuisance faults with their current robot workcell safeguarding methods cause production to shut down at least every couple of hours
  • As inflation hits manufacturers, 33% of respondents noted that “reducing the cost and complexity of manufacturing” was one of their biggest challenges over the next six months to a year
  • Other manufacturers noted that supply chain constraints (34%) and hiring and training of skilled workers (37%) were still their biggest problems

“Innovation being embraced within industrial processes is a great sign. But as the machine workforce evolves, so must the work environment,“ added Sobalvarro. “Modern manufacturing facilities and warehouses do not have the time to halt production in every situation where a human worker needs to enter a cage. A much more efficient and flexible safeguarding method is Speed & Separation Monitoring (SSM), which enables workers to interact safely with robots without entering the caged work environment. With SSM, manufacturers can prioritize safety and productivity without sacrificing one for the other.”

Read the full Veo Robotics 2022 Manufacturing Automation Outlook here.

About Veo Robotics

Veo Robotics is an industrial automation company building comprehensive sensing and intelligence for robots to collaborate with humans safely. It is the creator of FreeMove®, a comprehensive 3D safeguarding system for industrial robots that powers dynamic human-robot interactions. FreeMove enables fluid, efficient, and flexible production lines. Veo currently partners with the world’s four major robot manufacturers FANUC, Yaskawa, ABB, and Kuka. To learn more, please visit http://www.veobot.com.

Potenziale KI-gestützter Robotik für die Industrie

Künstliche Intelligenz (KI) gilt als Schlüsseltechnologie und birgt enormes wirtschaftliches Potenzial. Doch ein Blick in deutsche Produktionshallen zeigt noch ein anderes Bild: Lediglich 6,8 Prozent der Unternehmen aus den Bereichen Maschinenbau und Elektrotechnik setzen KI-Technologien ein (Stand 2019). Dabei birgt KI gerade für das produzierende Gewerbe zahlreiche Potenziale.

Künstliche Intelligenz ist ein Überbegriff, der den Ansatz beschreibt, mit Maschinen Probleme zu lösen und menschliche Intelligenz zu imitieren. Dabei spielt insbesondere ein Teilbereich, das Machine Learning (Maschinelles Lernen), in Unternehmen und Produktionen eine entscheidende Rolle. Machine Learning bedeutet, dass ein System aus Beispielen lernt und diese nach der Lernphase verallgemeinern kann.

In der Produktion kommt Machine Learning beispielsweise im Bereich Predictive Analytics zum Einsatz. Dort wird KI als Teil von Vorhersagemodellen zur Überwachung und Wartung von Produktionsanlagen eingesetzt, um frühzeitig auf kritische Zustände reagieren zu können.

Auch das Wissensmanagement greift für die Auswertung von internen Informationen und Daten auf Machine Learning zurück. Daten von Fertigungslinien, Lieferketten, aber auch von einzelnen Produkten werden für Unternehmensprozesse, die Produktentwicklung und neue Geschäftsmodelle ausgewertet. Ohne den Einsatz von KI wäre eine Analyse aufgrund der schieren Datenmenge nicht möglich.

Mit KI und Robotik Handarbeitsplätze automatisieren

Machine Learning, häufig in Kombination mit Machine Vision, kommt auch in den Bereichen Robotik und Automatisierung, Sensorik und bei fahrerlosen Transportsystemen zum Einsatz. Für die Fertigung ist dabei das Zusammenspiel von KI und Robotik ein wichtiger Schlüssel für die Zukunft.

KI-Produkte, wie beispielsweise Robotersteuerungen, ermöglichen es unter anderem, Handarbeitsplätze zu automatisieren. Ein nicht zu vernachlässigender Vorteil, denn Arbeitskräfte sind rar und der Mangel verschärft sich in den Jahren weiter, wie der Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK) prognostiziert. Übernehmen Roboter auch Aufgaben, für die es bisher die Flexibilität eines Menschen brauchte, sorgt das für die Entlastung der Stammbelegschaft, eine Auslastung der Maschinen und sichert auf lange Sicht die Wettbewerbsfähigkeit.

Robuster Umgang mit Varianzen

KI-Steuerungen wie MIRAI von Micropsi Industries ergänzen die native Steuerung eines Roboters. Der Roboter erhält dank einer Kamera und einem neuronalen Netzwerk die Auge-Hand-Koordination und eine vergleichbare Flexibilität wie ein Mensch. Ein solches intelligentes Robotersystem lernt bei neuen Aufgaben, bei anders geformten oder positionierten Werkteilen oder bei vergleichbaren Varianzen schnell, was es zu tun hat und passt bei Bedarf seine Bewegungen in Echtzeit eigenständig an. Ob es sich um das Picken einzelner Teile, Zustellbewegungen oder Fügen und Verfolgen handelt: Zahlreiche Tätigkeiten sind mit einer einzigen kleinen Kamera am Roboter-Handgelenk umsetzbar.

Diese Fähigkeiten lassen sich mit MIRAI durch menschliche Demonstration trainieren. Weder KI- noch Programmierkenntnisse sind erforderlich. Das Know-how bleibt selbst ohne KI-Fachkräfte im Unternehmen. Dem Roboter muss dafür das Ziel einige Male in typisch vorkommenden Varianzen mit der Kamera gezeigt werden. Die KI verallgemeinert im Anschluss die gezeigten Daten. Ein solches System kann in wenigen Stunden trainiert und sogar neu trainiert werden. Selbst eine Fertigung im High Mix-/Low-Volume lässt sich so rentabel automatisieren. Was intelligente Robotiklösungen bereits in der Praxis leisten, zeigen die folgenden Beispiele.

Intelligentes Handling-System bei ZF

Der Technologiekonzern ZF stand vor der Herausforderung, die Werkstückzufuhr einer großvolumigen Frässtation, in der Zahnräder produziert werden, zu automatisieren. Im Werkprozess werden Metallringe aus einer Kiste entnommen und auf ein Förderband gelegt, um später in die Produktion der Zahnräder einzufließen. Die Schwierigkeit: Der Produktionsschritt ist sehr variantenreich, da sich die Ringe in der angelieferten Gitterbox verschieben und dadurch zufällig angeordnet sind. Auch Platzierung und Form der Box variieren. Wechselnde Lichtverhältnisse stellen eine zusätzliche Herausforderung dar. Außerdem ist die Oberfläche der Ringe metallisch glänzend, teilweise ölverschmiert oder korrodiert, was eine klassische Automatisierung unmöglich machte.

Heute ist die KI-Steuerung MIRAI und ein Cobot vom Modell UR10e bei ZF in einer automatisierten Werkstückaufnahme im Einsatz. Mit seiner eigenen Steuerung bringt der Cobot sich über den Ringen in der Kiste in Position. Nun übernimmt das MIRAI-System die Kontrolle: Es bewegt den Roboter selbstständig zum nächsten Ring und bringt den Greifer in die korrekte dreidimensionale Greifposition. Danach übernimmt der UR10e wieder, nimmt den Ring auf und bewegt ihn zum Ablegen auf das Förderband. Das komplette Einrichten des Roboters dauerte lediglich wenige Tage – MIRAI löste in kürzester Zeit ein lang bestehendes Problem.

BSH sucht mit KI nach Kältemittellecks

An ihrem spanischen Standort stellt die BSH Hausgeräte GmbH Kühl- und Gefrierschränke her. Im Herstellungsprozess muss das Unternehmen die Kupferrohrleitungen der Kühlschränke auf Leckagen testen. Für die sogenannte Dichtheitsprüfung wird eine Schnüffelsonde entlang der Kupferrohrleitungen und Kompressoren geführt, um Lötstellen auf austretendes Gas und Kältemittel zu prüfen. Das Besondere: Jede Rückseite der hergestellten Kühlschränke ist einzigartig, was Position, Farbe und Form der Lötpunkte angeht. Für einen herkömmlichen Roboter sind solche Varianzen ein unüberwindbares Hindernis. Der monotone Prüfprozess blieb dem Menschen vorbehalten – bis jetzt.

Den Prüfprozess übernimmt bei BSH nun eine Robotik-Komplettlösung den Prüfprozess. Dank der integrierten Robotersteuerung MIRAI ist es dem Roboter möglich, alle zu prüfenden Lötstellen verlässlich zu identifizieren und die Schnüffelsonde millimetergenau heranzuführen – unabhängig von Position, Form oder Farbe. Das System reagiert in Echtzeit auf seine Umwelt und handhabt selbst unvorhergesehene Abweichungen präzise. Die Roboterfähigkeiten wurden von Mitarbeitenden bei BSH durch menschliche Demonstration in nur wenigen Stunden trainiert. Weder Programmier- noch KI-Kenntnisse waren erforderlich. BSH konnte mit der Automatisierungslösung die laufenden Betriebskosten senken und Wartungen und Fehlerbehebungen reduzieren.

Neue Technologien als Wettbewerbsvorteil

Die Beispiele zeigen, dass Unternehmen mit KI sehr viel bewirken können: KI ermöglicht mehr Flexibilität, Unabhängigkeit, Effizienz und nicht zuletzt Resilienz. Nicht unwichtig in Zeiten wie diesen. Neue Technologien sollte dabei als Türöffner zu mehr Automatisierung verstanden werden. Leistungen, die bislang von Menschen oder Maschinen erbracht wurden, können nun von einer Software geliefert werden. Das ist nicht nur vorteilhaft beim drastisch zunehmenden Arbeitskräftemangel. Es erhöht auch die Flexibilität, Nachvollziehbarkeit und Zuverlässigkeit von Produktionsprozessen und verschafft einen dauerhaften Wettbewerbsvorsprung.

Weitere Informationen unter: https://bit.ly/MicropsiIndustries

Starship Launches Grocery Delivery Service in Bay Area

On-demand robot delivery now available in Pleasanton, CA at Lucky California flagship store

SAN FRANCISCO (February, 2022)  Starship Technologies, the world’s leading provider of autonomous delivery services, is now delivering groceries in the San Francisco Bay Area. Starship is expanding its partnership with The Save Mart Companies for the exclusive launch of an on-demand grocery delivery service at its Lucky California flagship store in Pleasanton, CA. Lucky is the first grocery store in the San Francisco Bay Area to partner with Starship. 

Starship and The Save Mart Companies first partnered in September 2020, when the Save Mart flagship store in Modesto became the first grocery store in the U.S. to offer Starship robot delivery service. Since its launch, that store has expanded its delivery area to serve over 55,000 households. In Pleasanton, the service is launching to thousands of residents, with the delivery area expected to grow rapidly in the coming months, similar to Modesto. 

“We are very pleased to bring the benefits of autonomous delivery to Pleasanton, in partnership with Lucky California,” said Ryan Tuohy, SVP of Sales and Business Development at Starship Technologies. “Since launching our service in Modesto in 2020, we’ve been excited to see the extremely positive reaction to the robots and how they were embraced as part of the local community. We think the residents of Pleasanton will appreciate the convenience and positive environmental impact of autonomous delivery and we fully expect the service area to quickly expand to more households.”

The robots, each of which can carry up to 20 pounds of groceries – the equivalent of about three shopping bags – provide a convenient, energy-efficient, and low-cost delivery alternative to driving to the Lucky California store, allowing shoppers to browse thousands of items via the secure Starship app for on-demand delivery straight to their home.

The robots travel autonomously – crossing streets, climbing curbs and traversing sidewalks – to provide on-demand delivery to shoppers. They often become local celebrities as community members share their robot selfies and “love notes” on social media. 

“Since the debut of our contactless delivery service at the Save Mart flagship store, feedback from the Modesto community has been incredibly positive,” said Barbara Walker, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for The Save Mart Companies. “We are thrilled to expand this service to Lucky California in Pleasanton and offer a safe and efficient grocery delivery solution, along with some joyful entertainment, especially as the service area progressively expands over time..”

The Starship Food Delivery app is available for download on iOS and Android. To get started, customers choose from a range of their favorite groceries and drop a pin where they want their delivery to be sent. When an order is submitted, Lucky California team members gather the delivery items and carefully place them in a clean robot. Every robot’s interior and exterior is sanitized before each order. The customer can then watch as the robot makes its journey to them, via an interactive map. Once the robot arrives, the customer receives an alert, and can then meet the robot and unlock it through the app.

Starship already offers its services in many parts of the EU, UK and the US in cities, university campuses and industrial campuses, with further expansion planned in the near future. Starship is able to do L4 deliveries everywhere it operates – entire cities and campuses. The robots have been operating at L4 since 2018. On a daily basis Starship robots will complete numerous deliveries in a row 100% autonomously, including road crossings. This is why the cost of a Starship delivery is now lower than the human equivalent, which is believed to be a world first for any robot delivery company, whereas most others are still majority human controlled and in pilot mode.

Starship Technologies operates commercially on a daily basis around the world. Its zero-emission robots make more than 100,000 road crossings every day and have completed more than 2.5 million commercial deliveries and travelled more than 3 million miles (5 million+ kms) globally, more than any other autonomous delivery provider.

The Evolution of Robo-Dogs

Sophie writes on behalf of Panda Security covering cybersecurity and online safety best practices for consumers and families. Specifically, she is interested in removing the barriers of complicated cybersecurity topics and teaching data security in a way that is accessible to all. Her most recent piece is on the evolution of robotic dogs and where they're headed next.

Robots have been a point of fascination and study for centuries as researchers and inventors have sought to explore the potential for automated technology. While there’s a long history of the development and creation of autonomous machines, mobile, quadrupedal robots — or four-legged robotic dogs — have seen a significant boom in the last few decades. 

The development of quadrupedal robots stems from the necessity of mobile robots in exploring dangerous or unstructured terrains. Compared to other mobile robots (like wheeled or bipedal/two-legged robots), quadrupedal robots are a superior locomotion system in terms of stability, control and speed.

The capabilities of quadrupedal robots are being explored in a variety of fields, from construction and entertainment to space exploration and military operations. Today, modern robotic dogs can be purchased by businesses and developers to complete tasks and explore environments deemed too dangerous for humans. Read on for the evolution of robotic dogs and where they might be headed in the future. 

1966: Phony Pony

Although it technically mirrored the form of a horse, the Phony Pony was the first autonomous quadrupedal robot to emerge in the U.S. that set the precedent for robotic dogs of the future. Equipped with electrical motors, the Pony Pony had two degrees of freedom, or joints, in each leg (the hip and the knee) and one adaptive joint in the frontal plane. The hip and knee joints were identical, allowing for both forward and backward walking movements. 

The Phony Pony was capable of crawling, walking and trotting, albeit at a very slow speed. Thanks to its spring-restrained “pelvic” structure, it was able to maintain static vertical stability during movement. Since the Phony Pony was developed before the advent of microprocessors, it could only be controlled through cables connected to a remote computer in an adjacent building.  

Developer: Frank and McGhee

Use: Initial research and development of autonomous quadrupeds 

1999: AIBO

In the late 1990s, Sony’s AIBO  — one of the most iconic and advanced entertainment robotic dogs — hit the market. While the AIBO (Artificial Intelligence RoBOt) was constructed for entertainment purposes, its machinery is still highly complex. 

Developed with touch, hearing, sight and balancing capabilities, it can respond to voice commands, shake hands, walk and chase a ball. It can also express six “emotions”: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, dislike and surprise. Its emotional state is expressed through tail wagging, eye color changes and body movements, as well as through a series of sounds including barks, whines and growls. Today, the AIBO has been used across many research groups for the purpose of testing artificial intelligence and sensory integration techniques.

Developer: Sony

Use: Toys and entertainment

2005: BigDog

Boston Dynamics has become a leader in the world of robotics, specifically in their development of canine-inspired quadrupeds. Their first robotic dog, coined BigDog, arrived in 2005. Measuring three by two feet and weighing in at 240 pounds, BigDog was designed to support soldiers in the military. It can carry 340 pounds, climb up and down 35-degree inclines and successfully hike over rough terrains. 

Each of BigDog’s legs has a passive linear pneumatic compliance — a system that controls contact forces between a robot and a rigid environment — and three active joints in the knees and hips. The robot is powered by a one-cylinder go-kart engine, and its dynamic regulating system allows it to maintain balance. Its movement sensors embrace joint position, joint force, ground contact, ground load and a stereo vision system. 

In 2012, developers were still working to refine BigDog’s capabilities before plans to officially deploy it to military squads. However, the project was discontinued in 2015 after concluding its gas-powered engine was too noisy to be used in combat. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in unsafe terrains 

2009: LittleDog 

Four years after BigDog came LittleDog, Boston Dynamics’ smallest quadrupedal robot to date. LittleDog was developed specifically for research purposes to be used by third parties investigating quadrupedal locomotion. 

Each of LittleDog’s legs are powered by three electric motors fueled by lithium polymer batteries and have a maximum operation time of thirty minutes. LittleDog maintains a large range of motion and is capable of climbing, crawling and walking across rocky terrains. A PC-level computer placed on top of LittleDog is responsible for its movement sensors, controls and communications. It can be controlled remotely and includes data-logging support for data analysis purposes. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Research on locomotion in quadrupeds 

2011: AlphaDog Proto

Continuing their efforts to develop military-grade robots, Boston Dynamics released AlphaDog Proto in 2011. Powered by a hydraulic actuation system, AlphaDog Proto is designed to support soldiers in carrying heavy gear across rocky terrains. It’s capable of carrying up to 400 pounds for as far as 20 miles, all within the span of 24 hours, without needing to refuel. 

AlphaDog Proto is equipped with a GPS navigation and computer vision system that allows it to follow soldiers while carrying their gear. Thanks to an internal combustion engine, AlphaDog Proto proved to be quieter than its predecessor BigDog, making it more suitable for field missions. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in carrying heavy gear over unsafe terrains

2012: Legged Squad Support System (LS3)

Boston Dynamics’ development of the Legged Squad Support System (LS3) came soon after the creation of BigDog in their efforts to continue refining their quadrupedal robots for soldiers and Marines. LS3 was capable of operating in hot, cold, wet and otherwise unfavorable conditions. It contained a stereo vision system with a pair of stereo cameras, which were mounted inside the robot’s head. This operated in conjunction with a light-detecting and ranging unit that allowed it to follow a soldier’s lead and record feedback obtained from the camera. 

Compared to BigDog, LS3 was around 10 times quieter at certain times and had an increased walking speed of one to three miles per hour, increased jogging speed of five miles per hour and the ability to run across flat surfaces at seven miles per hour. It was also capable of responding to ten voice commands, which was a more efficient function for soldiers who would be too preoccupied with a mission to use manual controls. 

Five years into development, LS3 had successfully been refined enough to be able to operate with Marines in a realistic combat exercise and was used to resupply combat squads in locations that were difficult for squad vehicles to reach. By 2015, however, the LS3 was shelved due to noise and repair limitations. While the Marines were ultimately unable to use the LS3 in service, it provided valuable research insights in the field of autonomous technology. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Assist soldiers in carrying heavy gear over unsafe terrains

2016: Spot 

Spot is Boston Dynamics’ next creation in their line of quadrupedal robots, designed in an effort to move away from developing quadrupeds strictly for military use and instead move into more commercial use. Spot is significantly smaller than their previous models, weighing just 160 pounds. Spot is capable of exploring rocky terrains, avoiding objects in its path during travel and climbing stairs and hills. 

Spot’s hardware is equipped with powerful control boards and five sensor units on all sides of its body that allow it to navigate an area autonomously from any angle. Twelve custom motors power Spot’s legs, gaining speed of up to five feet per second and operating for up to 90 minutes. Its sensors are able to capture spherical images and also allow for mobile manipulation for tasks such as opening doors and grasping objects. Spot’s control methods are far more advanced than Boston Dynamics’ earlier robots, allowing for autonomous control in a wider variety of situations. 

Developer: Boston Dynamics

Use: Documenting construction process and monitoring remote high-risk environments 

2016: ANYmal

While Boston Dynamics had been the main leader in quadrupedal robots since the early 2000s, Swiss robotics company ANYbotics came out with its own iteration of the robotic dog in 2016. Positioned as an end-to-end robotic inspection solution, ANYmal was developed for industrial use, specifically the inspection of unsafe environments like energy and industrial plants. 

ANYmal is mounted with a variety of laser inspection sensors to provide visual, thermal and acoustic readings. Equipped with an on-board camera, it’s capable of remote panning and tilting settings to adjust views of the inspection site. ANYmal is capable of autonomously perceiving its environment, planning its navigation path and selecting proper footholds during travel. It can even walk up stairs and fit into difficult-to-reach areas that traditional wheeled robots can’t.

ANYmal has undergone a handful of development iterations since 2016 and is available for purchase as of 2021. ANYbotics is currently working on an upgraded version of the robot suitable for potentially explosive environments. 

Developer: ETH Zurich and ANYbotics

Use: Remote inspection of unsafe environments

2021: Vision 60 

One of the latest developments in quadrupedal robots is Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 robotic dog, which has recently been tested at the U.S. Air Force’s Scott Air Force Base in Illinois as part of its one-year pilot testing program. Built to mitigate risks faced by Air Force pilots, Vision 60 features a rifle mounted on its back contained in a gun pod and is equipped with sensors that allow it to operate in a wide variety of unstable terrains. It’s also capable of thermal imaging, infrared configuration and high-definition video streaming. 

Vision 60 can carry a maximum of 31 pounds and can travel at up to 5.24 feet per second. It’s considered a semi-autonomous robot due to its accompanying rifle; while it can accurately line up with a target on its own, it can’t open fire without a human operator (in accordance with the U.S. military’s autonomous systems policy prohibiting automatic target engagement).

Developer: Ghost Robotics

Use: Military and Homeland Security operations

2021: CyberDog

With more companies embracing the development of quadrupeds, Xiaomi Global followed suit and released their version named CyberDog. CyberDog is an experimental, open-source robot promoted as both a human-friendly companion and an asset by law enforcement and military. CyberDog is sleeker and smaller than its other robotic dog predecessors, carrying a payload of just 6.6 pounds and running over 10 feet per second. 

CyberDog is equipped with multiple cameras and image sensors located across its body, including touch sensors and an ultra-wide fisheye lens. CyberDog can hold 128 gigabytes of storage and is powered by Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier AI platform to perform real-time analyses of its surroundings, create navigation paths, plot its destination and avoid obstacles. CyberDog can also perform backflips and respond to voice commands thanks to its six microphones. 

By making CyberDog an open-source project, Xiaomi hopes to expand its reach into the future of robot development and innovation. Its open-source nature is meant to encourage robotics enthusiasts to try their hand at writing code for CyberDog, giving the project more exposure and bolstering Xiaomi’s reputation in the robotics community. 

Developer: Xiaomi Global

Use: An open-source platform for developers to build upon 

While the market for quadrupedal robots is still in its early stages, interest is steadily growing in a wide range of industries. As for fears of robots pushing out the need for traditionally human-led jobs, these machines are more intended to support humans alongside their jobs rather than replace them outright. 

On the other hand, privacy concerns associated with robots aren’t to be ignored. As with any tech-enabled device, hacking is always possible, especially for open-source robotic models that can put users’ personal information at risk. This applies not only to the quadrupeds discussed above, but to more common commercial robotic systems like baby monitors, security systems and other WiFi-connected devices. It’s important to ensure your home network system is as strong and secure as possible with a home antivirus platform

Omniwheels-Fahrzeuge und Tanzroboter – fischertechnik Baukasten für Robotics-Einsteiger

Mit dem Baukasten Robotics Smarttech (249,90 Euro, erhältlich ab August) steigt fischertechnik in die nächste Dimension der fahrbaren Roboter ein. Mit neuen Bauteilen lassen sich verschiedene Omniwheels-Fahrzeuge konstruieren, die sich in sämtliche Richtungen bewegen können. Auch weitere Modelle, wie ein Tanzroboter, lassen sich mit dem Baukasten für Robotics-Einsteiger bauen und programmieren. Im Baukasten enthalten sind der TXT Controller und die Software ROBO Pro.

Der Baukasten Robotics Smarttech ermöglicht einen Einblick in die Zukunft autonom fahrender Fahrzeuge. Der enthaltene RGB-Gestensensor erkennt Gesten in vier verschiedenen Richtungen, misst RGB-Farbwerte und Umgebungshelligkeit, kann als Näherungssensor eingesetzt werden und misst hierbei Abstände von bis zu 15 Zentimetern. Zusammen mit dem IR-Spursensor und dem Taster lassen sich so verschiedene spannende Fahrroboter bauen und programmieren, die darauf warten, von jungen Tüftlern und Entwicklern auf Erkundungstour geschickt zu werden.

Die Fahrzeuge sind mit einem komplett neuen Räderkonzept ausgestattet, wie es in der mobilen Robotik vorkommt. Die Omniwheels – oder Allseitenräder – ermöglichen ein platzsparendes Rangieren, indem die Fahrzeige seitlich oder diagonal fahren. Außerdem können sich die Fahrzeuge sogar auf der Stelle drehen. fischertechnik entwickelte hierfür extra belastbare, qualitativ hochwertige Bauteile, um die Funktionalität der vielseitigen Fahrzeuge gewährleisten zu können. 

Ein weiteres attraktives Modell ist der Tanzroboter, der – einmal zusammengebaut und programmiert – lustige Bewegungen und Drehungen vollziehen kann.

Bevor diese anspruchsvolleren Modelle gebaut werden, können sich Anfänger an einfachen Konstruktionen versuchen. Das Demo-Modell erklärt das Grundprinzip, wie Motor und Taster programmiert und gesteuert werden können. Per Knopfdruck läuft der Motor für eine zuvor definierte Zeit, währenddessen bewegt sich eine Drehschreibe mit einer Grafik, die eine optische Täuschung hervorruft. Erfahrene Konstrukteure wagen sich an einen fahrbaren Roboter, mit dem verschiedene Fahraufgaben programmiert werden können.

Insgesamt können mit dem Baukasten neun verschiedene Robotics-Modelle gebaut und programmiert werden. Der Baukasten ist für Kinder ab 10 Jahren geeignet.