Germany automotive agency Continental is finest know for its tires, however at CES 2019 the corporate is demonstrating one thing a little bit totally different: bundle supply by robotic canine.
As a part of its analysis into the way forward for mobility, Continental has partnered with robotics firm ANYbotics (a spin off from ETH Zurich) to think about the way forward for bundle supply. In a staged demonstration on the CES present flooring, the agency confirmed how one in all ANYbotics’ four-legged robots may bounce out the again of a self-driving supply truck and carry a bundle proper as much as somebody’s entrance door.
Within the demo, the ANYMal robotic could possibly be seen slowly selecting its method over particles within the backyard earlier than ringing the pretend doorbell with one if its limbs. It then suggestions the bundle off its again onto the porch and performs a little bit victory dance as a bonus.
As you may guess from the staged nature of this demo, Continental has no plans to make this an actual service any time quickly. However how real looking is that this imaginative and prescient of the longer term?
Briefly, it’s a method off. Legged robots aren’t but dependable sufficient for this form of job, however some corporations are exploring this area. Famed robot-maker Boston Dynamics has mentioned its quadrupedal robotic SpotMini (which matches on sale this yr) could possibly be used for delivering packages, whereas startup Agility Robotics from the College of Oregon, which makes the bipedal bot Cassie, has mentioned the identical. However neither of those corporations have any plans to supply precise robot-delivery companies.
Chatting with The Verge in 2017, Damion Shelton of Agility Robotics mentioned the benefit of utilizing legged robots for this job is they’ll extra simply navigate human environments — significantly steps. “Should you think about people from a design standpoint, what we have been designed for is being extraordinarily agile in a particularly cluttered setting,” mentioned Shelton.
However till legged bipedal bots turn into quicker and extra dependable, corporations are turning to a extra tried-and-tested know-how: wheels. A variety of startups and established companies (together with Domino’s and PepisCo) are experimenting with utilizing wheeled robots for last-mile supply, significantly for serving up meals. Continental’s dream of utilizing robotic canine is definitely extra bold, however it’s additionally much less prone to come true within the close to future.