Swiss Technical School Develops Dancing, Trash-Disposing Robot ‘ANYmal’


Technology is one of the most wondrous things humanity has managed to produce in its brief stint on this planet. In between the wars, the destruction and the conflict it’s always nice to come across something good, something wholesome, something like ANYmal from ANYbotics.

Robotics, in particular, have a lot of untapped potential, uses that we can barely even fathom at the moment. This specific project is definitely one of the more creative ones we’ve come across. The four-legged (quadruped) robot built by the Swiss ETH Zurich has four stumpy legs, a large body and a long additional arm where an animal might have its head.

ANYmal robot dog to get its own “arm”

At a bit of a distance, the ANYmal looks like a mix of dog and giraffe. The arm itself has its own name: ALMA. Short for Articulated Locomotion and MAnipulation. ALMA has 3 fingers at its end, and they are what makes the ANYmal so very special.

ANYmal without ALMA arm

Thanks to the fingers, it can perform relatively complex tasks, such as opening a door via its handle, lifting boxes for humans, or carrying a glass of water without spilling it. While those are all accomplishments that most people can pull off easily, they are pretty impressive for a robot, and they have quite a variety of potential uses in the real world.

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In a promotional video, the -presumably- proud parents of the ANYmal showed off its skills by having it pick up a bottle from the floor and throwing it into a trash-can, among other things. You can watch the video here.

But it’s more than that

Of course, if that was ‘all’ it could do, the ANYmal would hardly have gotten as much attention as it has. No, its makers gave it another, very endearing ability, and in this case, it’s one that most people actually lack: The ANYmal can DANCE!

We don’t mean that it can sort of wriggle around with music playing in the background either – an onboard microphone enables the clever machine to analyze the beat and speed of the music in order for it to select the right moves and to choreograph them into a relatively coherent dance.

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That’s definitely far more than many people manage, and it proves just how smart the ANYmal is – in addition to movement and balance abilities, it has problem-solving skills and can adapt to its surroundings with ease.

Getting up stairs and through rough terrain is no problem

Would also work for rescue missions

As for the ‘real-world’ uses of it, the makers of the ANYmal envisioned it being used for rescue operations in areas where humans can’t gain easy access – after natural catastrophes, for example, the ANYmal could look for survivors. Whereas in the case of a nuclear incident like in Fukushima, the dancing robot could safely enter contaminated areas and even operate other machinery in areas too dangerous for people to enter.

Potentially, it could even assist police in disposing of bombs and similar threats, while being capable of entering spaces a human may not fit or defusing situations not safe for people. At the moment, the ANYmal is still confined to the Swiss lab it was built in, as it isn’t quite ready for commercial applications yet, but the ANYmal is nevertheless a spectacular machine – and we’re not just saying that because it dances better than us!

YouTube: ANYmal – Robot Dog from Switzerland (ETH Zurich)

Photo credit: All images and videos shown are owned by ANYbotics. We were granted permission to use this material for editorial and demonstration purposes.

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Melanie Hawthorne
Melanie Hawthorne
Mel is a UK-based journalist that has been writing about tech, science and video games for a few years now. After studying in Vienna, Austria she followed her dreams and moved to London. Said dreams took her through a few different jobs before she settled on what she really wanted to do – write about the exciting world of technology and the delightfully strange things it sometimes produces.
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