How does ANYmal know where it is – with GPS?
Wälchli:: No, GPS would be too imprecise. ANYmal has a lidar sensor that uses a laser to measure the distance to existing objects and obstacles. In the first step, you map the entire system. This data appears as point clouds. In the second step, using the saved map, the robot compares its current position during subsequent missions and determines its location. This method is called SLAM in technology jargon: Simultaneous Localization and Mapping. The robot moves and updates its map simultaneously. ANYmal also understands where it can go and what movement options it has.
Doesn’t it bother it that this environment is constantly changing, for example, because people pass by?
Wälchli:: No, ANYmal can handle it.
Have there been any concerns among the workforce that the robot could cost jobs?
Wälchli:: Companies can use such robots to automate tasks that people do not want or should not do, such as working in hazardous areas. Additionally, if one wants to increase the productivity of systems, a significant amount of data is required, which is currently lacking. Robots generate this data, making work safer and more productive.
Piniek:: We involved our workforce at an early stage when the decision was made to bring this robot to our factory. We even held a competition where the workforce could suggest and choose names for the robot. The response was overwhelmingly positive. I would say that there is now widespread acceptance.
And what name did he get?
Piniek:: It was decided that the robot would be called ROSIE: Robotic Operating System for Industrial Engineering. I recently had the opportunity to see it in action for the first time in person. Of course, it is a new and different experience when a robot moves around the factory. However, one quickly becomes accustomed to it.
How is it going now?
Piniek: In Krefeld, we are currently working on missions in the factory and the first inspection points. The second robot for the acid sector arrived at our plant in Sweden in September. Additionally, we are taking another step towards the end of the year: our plant in Tornio will receive its robot. Tornio is a city located in the north of Finland, on the Finnish-Swedish border. The robot will be exposed to very low temperatures there. Based on these three pilot projects, we will work with ANYbotics to determine the final implementation plan.