Your next package could be delivered by a robot dog.
German automative firm Continental unveiled a concept delivery system at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that imagines four-legged robot dogs hopping out of driverless delivery vans to ferry packages straight to your doorstep.
Continental partnered with robotics company ANYbotics, known for its quadrupedal robots that can open doors and ride elevators, to develop the concept.
WHAT ARE ANYMAL’S SPECS?
- Weighs 66lbs
- Can lift a payload of 22lbs
- Battery lasts between two to four hours on a single charge
- 360 degree mobility
- Can walk up to 1 mph
- Equipped with LIDAR or stereo cameras
- Made of carbon fiber and aluminum
- Sealed off from water and dust damage
Continental designed a robo-taxi specifically for the delivery dogs to ride around in.
Called the ‘CUbE,’ it’s a pod-shaped autonomous van that can carry one or multiple delivery robots at a time.
Once the van arrives at its destination, it will send out a robot dog through the back door of the car to drop the package off at the recipient’s doorstep.
At CES, Continental had a demo showing just what that would look like.
A robot dog was able to jump out of the van, clamber over a garden in front of a model home and make its way up a set of stairs to the door.
From there, it slides the package off its back and onto the front porch, before ringing the fake doorbell with one of its arms.
After delivering the package, it was even able to do a little dance.
Continental believes the concept system could make last-mile delivery even more efficient in the future.
The last-mile portion of the delivery process encompasses how the package gets from the warehouse to the person’s doorstep.
‘With the help of robot delivery, Continental’s vision for seamless mobility can extend right to your doorstep,’ said Ralph Lauxmann, head of Continental’s Systems & Technology, Chassis & Safety division.
‘Our vision of cascaded robot delivery leverages a driverless vehicle to carry delivery robots, creating an efficient transport team.’
While the demo went smoothly, Continental doesn’t plan to roll out the robo-delivery dogs or the driverless van concept anytime soon.
ANYbotics, a division of ETH Zurich University in Switzerland, has previously showed off what its four-legged robots can do.
Earlier this year, it took the wraps off a quadrupedal robot that can open doors, ride an elevator and, in perhaps one of the creepiest scenarios, move uninterrupted after being pushed over by a human.
Called the ‘ANYmal,’ the device is described as an autonomous robot that can navigate nearly any terrain, including ones deemed unsafe for human entry.
Anymal’s robotic limbs allow it to move at a pace that’s comparable to that of a human and it can carry a payload of up to 22lbs.
It was developed by Robotic Systems Lab at ETH Zurich and has been shown in several videos completing various tasks.
The latest clip shows Anymal using an articulated arm to turn a door handle, then push the door open with ease.
As it walks down a hall, a human gives Anymal a good push, which doesn’t seem to phase the robot.
Another video shows Anymal riding an elevator without any human assistance.
It summons an elevator by extending one of its articulated arms and pressing a button.
The elevator doors open and, in somewhat frightening speed and accuracy, Anymal steps into the elevator.
These frightening scenarios – riding an elevator and fending off a human’s push – are likely what earned Anymal a brief cameo on the sci-fi TV show ‘The X-Files.’
‘The robot Anymal runs down a dark hallway, chasing agents Scully and Mulder in a nerve-racking pursuit,’ Peter Fankhauser, research assistant in Robotics at ETH Zurich, said in a blog post.
‘For decades, people are fascinated by robots, and this fascination has not worn off. So when we got a call with the question if our robotic platform Anymal could be part of the X-Files, we were super excited.’
But its creators believe it could have more practical applications than starring on Hollywood screens.
A variety of on-board sensors and cameras enable Anymal to autonomously navigate through numerous terrains, such as ‘moving up and down stairs, climbing over obstacles, steps and gaps, and crawling into tight spaces.’
It’s able to do this by using sensors to continuously scan its environment for any obstacles, so that it can find a safe path, even in the most complex places.
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