12 May 2016   |   Network update from ETH Zurich
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ETH Zurich is one of the best universities in the world for robotics

Assistant professor Marco Hutter develops walking robots that move like living creatures. One day his machines might be able to carry out the menial and dangerous work human beings would rather avoid

The walking robot developed by thirty-year-old Marco Hutter and his team at ETH Zurich’s Robotic Systems Lab has joints that react as flexibly as those of their human or animal counterparts. Called Anymal, it can climb stairs, jump and cushion a landing.

Hutter is convinced that his robot could be used in a number of different fields within a few years, at industrial facilities, on search and rescue operations in alpine areas, and for mine inspections.

“The robots will go anywhere that is dangerous for people, or where working conditions are very bad,” explains the mechanical engineering graduate.

Hutter’s research group has just tested Anymal’s practical applicability at the ARGOS Challenge in France, an international competition run by energy giant Total to promote the development of autonomous robots for use in inspections of offshore oil and gas sites.

Weighing just 30 kilogrammes, Anymal can be easily carried and deployed by a single operator. With its incorporated sensors, the robot maps its surroundings continuously, allowing it to plan and implement its actions completely autonomously.

Anymal came into existence through the university’s ‘Society in Science’ funding programme.

Hutter was awarded one of the sought-after internationally advertised fellowships in 2014. He will receive CHF 100,000 (a little over €90,000) annually until 2019 for the advancement of his research.

“For me, this fellowship was a unique opportunity to develop something that couldn’t be achieved with the ordinary resources,” he said.

Hutter has been assistant professor of robotic systems since October 2015.

“I have to make sure that our lab produces outstanding work, attracts talented researchers and that I can pay them accordingly. I also have to recognise trends, so that we can be internationally successful,” he said.

For Hutter, it is clear that he will still be working at ETH in 10 years’ time. “In the field of robotics, ETH is one of the best universities in the world – if not the best.”

This press release – adapted for publication – was originally published on ETH Zurich’s website by Astrid Tomczak-Plewka. The original can be found here.

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