Quadruped robots are out there right now, and other than helping out in a disaster or carrying loads for humans, a decent usage scenario for the robots is unclear. A company called ANYbotics has found a usage scenario for its quadruped robot called ANYmal out in the ocean on an offshore platform.
ANYmal roams an offshore power distribution platform out in the North Sea that is very remote. The platform is very dull with little happening but does need two people to roam the platform and check up on things to ensure all is working well. The catch is that people don’t want the job at the remote site.
In September, ANYmal turned up on the platform and roams around using its video camera head to send back video to human operators. The quadrupedal design of the bot makes it well suited for getting over and around obstacles on the platform and moving up and down stairs and tight corridors. ANYmal isn’t ideal for the job; word is the bot is a bit short making it hard to get a good glimpse at all the gauges and dials operators need to see.
It also appears that the bot can’t open some electrical cabinets meaning they have to be left open for the robot to view. These aren’t significant issues that couldn’t be resolved with a refit of some for the controls and cabinets that need to be inspected. The big catch with ANYmal rather than a human is that while it can look for trouble, it can’t fix any issues.
The platform owners would still need to send a person out to fix anything that breaks. If a human was the one checking gages and dials, the person could fix the issue when found. For many reasons the robot for now is seen as a way to extend the workforce. A good use of the bot would be for a reduced human workforce on the platform using the bot for inspection and then the person could fix any issues that arise.