God help me but I just love watching videos of robots doing completely banal things. Every time I do I’m reminded of a) how much work and effort goes into recreating a task that humans can carry out without thinking, and b) how far away we are from all those killer robot doomsday scenario. Just look at this fella’s little stampy robot steps! It couldn’t hurt a fly.
The robot in this video is the Anymal, a quadruped bot built by ETH Zurich. (It looks similar to some of Boston Dynamic’s creations, but that’s just because four legs is a good model for building stable robots. Even when they break down, they’re still left standing up.) The video above is just a tiny update on the bot’s progress, but it’s been under development for more than a year now, with ETH hoping it will one day be used for tasks like search and rescue.
And although, yes, it seems odd to laud a 12-second video, creating robots that can navigate indoor spaces is pretty essential. We shouldn’t have to build an entirely new infrastructure for future robots doing things like making deliveries in buildings, or helping the elderly. They should adapt to our environments, not the other way round.
Getting a bot like this to navigate your house completely autonomously is still a big ask, but in the meantime I’m happy to cheer it confidently bomping that call button. It summoned an elevator, but also my affections.