Swiss delivery robot walks, drives, stands, but doesn’t fly (yet)

delivery robot Swiss

A major Swiss update of a previously developed robot has yielded a car, quadruped, humanoid delivery vehicle that may rival aerial drones in getting goods to destinations – apart from the flying trick, that is.

Initially trotted out as the ANYmal in 2018, the new, wheel-outfitted iteration was rolled out recently as the Swiss-Mile Robot, whose driving, climbing, and standing capacities make it a tough delivery vehicle competitor to autonomous cars and aerial drones. Those development improvements were the work of the Swiss Mile, which adopted the bot concept from creator ANYbotics. Named for the distance the machine can cover in an hour (13.8 miles), the upgraded Swiss Mile robot can operate for 90 minutes on a single charge, and reach transport speeds of up to 14 mph.

The initial conception of the ANYmal was tailored to clambering around very irregular spaces like offshore platforms, and is still produced using a compact, four-legged design similar to Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot (including the semi-creep factor).

Under Swiss Mile’s revamp, by contrast, the body was elongated, and wheels were added to the limbs to enable faster, more diversified and fluid mobility. 

Swiss Mile, a spin-off unit of Switzerland’s public research university ETH Zurich, has fitted the robot with internal measurement units to allow its 16 motors balance it as stands upright. They also assist its articulated legs adjust as shock absorbers while it drives down or crawls up stairs. It can carry a maximum payload of 115 lbs., including cameras, GPS, LiDAR, and any range of sensors needed for delivery or other use. 

“Swiss-Mile extends our research of the last five years by deploying a multimodal platform to tackle last-mile delivery challenges and logistics with superior speed, efficiency, versatility and payload capability,” the company website says. “With both legs and wheels, our robot outperforms state-of-the-art wheeled delivery platforms as well as lightweight delivery drones. It is the only solution capable of carrying tools, materials, goods and sensors over long distances with energy efficiency and speed while overcoming challenging obstacles like steps and stairs and enabling seamless navigation in indoor and outdoor urban environments.”

The company is reportedly preparing to start marketing the Swiss-Mile Robot next, possibly with grabbing capabilities allowing it to load and unload transported deliveries on its own. No word yet if it will ever sprout rotors.

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