Anymal Uses The Elevator Proving Escape Is Futile

So, what do you do when trying to escape one of our future robotic overlords? Well, I used to think that hitting the first elevator I could find would stop most of the quadruped robotic beasts. But now, thanks to Anymal, I know that I was sadly mistaken.

Anymal at the elevator
Image sourced from provided video

Anymal is the soon to be commercially available quadruped robot from ETH Zurich. The robot is designed to be of service in the industrial environment and bears a resemblance to those four-legged robotic beasts from Boston Dynamics. However, Anymal is smaller as it weighs in at only 66 pounds. The robot is designed to work, and it can carry up to 22 pounds or a third of its own weight.

The battery packs in Anymal give it about a four hour hunting time before a recharge is required, so if you can avoid it for longer than that you might be safe. And since Anymal travels at about the speed of a briskly walking human being you could try to run, but unless you regularly run a marathon my money is on the robot eventually catching you.

Since the current mode of Anymal appears to use QR codes to locate the elevator buttons, it might be possible to remove the codes and leave it stranded on a random floor. That is, assuming you would have the time and could beat it to that location. You could also try marking hazardous locations with the retrieved QR code chart, such as open power conduit boxes (which always seem to be handy in the movies). If nothing else, maybe you can use QR codes and try to communicate with it. I’m not sure how to spell, “We come in peace” in QR code, but at times like this a little experimentation is definitely warranted.

The video below shows Anymal in action, and I think it has been sped up by a factor of three or so.  Still, that does not give anyone enough time to take the stairs, trust me.

There is no word yet on the pricing of the Anymal Quadruped Robot, but I would not expect it to be cheap.

Roaming Robots Are Scanning The Product Shelves At Select Walmarts

Walmart is turning to roaming robots to keep its shelves stocked. The pilot program in Chicago is being tested in at least 40 retail stores. The robots, measuring about 2 feet in size and equipped with a scanning camera tower, cruise the aisles and analyze current shelf stock. The robotic store minions can even make note of items that might have been incorrectly placed by customers or other, say more organic, workers.


Picture Copyright Walmart


According to Chief technology Officer Jeremy King, the robots are 50 percent more productive and can manage to significantly improve item accuracy. Not only that, but the robots can also scan a shelf three times faster than a human. As King also says,

If you are running up and down the aisle, and you want to decide if we are out of Cheerios or not, a human doesn’t do that job very well and they don’t like it…

The robots do seem to like it, and they can monitor the shelves more often than the typical twice a week schedule of current workers.  The increased update of out of stock items translate to more profit for the massive retailer, since empty shelves often mean missed sales.

There is no word yet on if the system will be rolling out nationwide, but don’t be surprised to find a roaming robotic scanner at a Walmart near you soon. In fact, if this works out, I would not be a bit surprised to find that the current process for the cart pick for the curbside service pickup (you’ve probably seen their carts at Krogers and other chains) becomes automated thanks to a similar, albeit robotic hand equipped, system.


The New Segway…. Robot

The name Segway conjures up images of the once popular personal transportation device. Well, that and images of mall cops running the halls, of course. But that may soon change, thanks to the latest offering by the company – the Segway Loomo robot.

Loomo Robot

As you would expect, Loomo is a self balancing, autonomous segway-esque device that has autonomous capabilities. Loomo uses robotic vision and sensors  to navigate its way around your favorite domicile, and it has microphones and speakers for communicating with mere mortals.



The current Loomo is a developer edition, and Segway Robotics has selected its initial development partners. Intel announced the Developer Program in Shenzhen this past April, and apparently the response was good. Chosen developers will receive the Loomo SDK as well as a special bay in which to attach various hardware accessories.

Varying Development Efforts 

Some development partners have specific goals in mind. For example, BMW is exploring autonomous driving, and Intel is looking at increasing their depth in personal robotics.

The MIT Smart Center is exploring possible medical and elderly care. Loomo’s potential for human transport makes this seem a good candidate for focus in this area.  Fallen and can’t get up? Call for Loomo and it can help to get you to a safe area. And if you are out shopping, perhaps Loomo can even help to take you to someplace to get help, such as a business office or information booth. It could even flag down help as it stands guard over you.

Stibo Accelerator is looking at enterprise and consumer safety as well as a focus on retail. Now, I don’t know what direction Stibo is taking with retail, but I look forward to the time where such a device could run errands for you at the local shopping center while your attention is focused elsewhere.

Hybrid Personal Robot

The personal robot is probably coming sooner than later, but one that can offer you a ride as well as do your bidding is an interesting concept. Of course, Kitt the autonomous car has already explored this concept, and while I doubt there would be a turbo boost option any time soon, it still makes for a fascinating type of personal robot.





Inverted Pendulum

The dynamics of the Segway PT are similar to a classic control problem, the inverted pendulum.


Nothing Says Chinese New Year Like 540 Synchronized Dancing Robots


Celebrating the Chinese New Year with fireworks is so last century. Instead, why not 540 synchronized robotic dancers? This is mesmerizing to me, with each metallic dancer doing their own part to carry the celebration.

The China Central Television’s Spring Festival Gala took place this past weekend, and I think it was quite a spectacle. But did I fail to mention that not only were there 540 Dancing Robots, but also 29 robotic drones. Drones and Robots, sounds like a celebration to me!


Robots Are Taking the Pictures at London Olympics

The good news is that Skynet has not happened yet, and we are free to live without robotic overlords. That is, except for maybe professional photographers, who may find that the robots are indeed taking over the London Olympics.

Reuters will have 11 robots set up in places that no human photographer will be able to access. Whether or not this will lead to pictures that no human photographer will get remains to be seen, but the hardware just might be on the robots’ side.

The robotic system, developed by Fabrizio Bensch and Pawel Kopczynski, flaunts Canon’s 18.1 megapixel 1-DX with an array of lenses perfect for the opportunity. You will find lenses that include a 24-105mm, a 70-200mm and telephotos up to 400mm.

Now, to be honest these three-axis mounted cameras are not completely self-aware (sigh of relief), since they are joystick operated by a human. The images are fed directly into the Reuter’s network for editing and distribution.

You can expect to find the camera system reaching into popular event venues as well as the main Olympic Park. According to Bensch,

We are essentially able to put cameras and photographers where they have never been before, capturing images in ways they have never been captured.

For example, one of those ways includes a truss mount 30 meters high in a position that no Olympic photographer has been. As they say, the truly successful photo takes the right eye and timing, but those are certainly some tough robotic advantages to compete against.

via DeviceMag


London Olympics 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad, also known informally as London 2012, are scheduled to take place in London, United Kingdom, from 27 July (when the opening ceremony is held) until 12 August 2012, although the first event begins on 25 July.