While the fear that our robot overlords will eventually take over the planet is still real, we’ve seen advances in robotics that are more helpful for humanity. There are tasks that we would much rather a robot will do for us like carrying heavy things (although that may be one of the reasons why the revolution will start) to avoid injuries. We’re seeing experiments on how to train them to do even more advanced skills so they can eventually take over the world, I mean these heavy, menial tasks.
Designer: Swiss Mile
The ANYmal robot is one such robot experiment that can get around either as a dog-like quadruped or mimic a human when it stands up on its hind legs, hence its name. Last year, it learned to squat back and stand up with its motorized wheels and now they’re experimenting with it to do heavier tasks through something called “curiosity-driven learning”. Basically it gets rewarded when it is able to complete the task it’s given by figuring out how to do it by itself.
In the video they posted showing how the ANYmal robot completed the task of putting a package into a bin, it was able to actually lift the box up and then put it where it’s supposed to go. However, it seemed to just throw it into that bin like how some baggage handlers supposedly do their task if they think no one is looking. The robot is probably thinking, “Hey, they just told me to put the box into the bin, not really to do it carefully and precisely.”
For now, the robot is still a robotics research project for things like Reinforcement Learning and Random Network Distillation. But if they do decide to actually manufacture the robots for industrial and commercial use, it would be interesting to see how the wheeled quadruped with the humanoid form can actually reduce heavy grunt work for humans.