The robot that can do parkour

Researchers at ETH Zurich did it. They taught their quadruped robot ANYmal to move like a human parkour practitioner. Overcome obstacles in the urban environment through athletic maneuvers. The robot that can do parkour has incredible abilities.

In its latest version, ANYmal also masters complicated terrain. Like those usually found on construction sites or in disaster areas. Two teams of researchers worked on it. Nikita Rudin, a doctoral student at ETH, practices parkour in his spare time. “My colleagues believed that legged robots had already reached the limit of their development potential,” he said in a statement. «I had a different opinion. In fact, I was sure that much more could be done with the mechanics of legged robots.

The robot that can do parkour learns from its own experience.
The robot that can do parkour learns from its own experience.

Learning from yourself

Using his own parkour experience, he used machine learning to teach the quadruped robot new skills. ANYmal can now climb obstacles and perform dynamic maneuvers to jump off of them. She learned as a child would: through trial and error.

It uses its camera and artificial neural network to determine what type of impediment it is dealing with. He then performs movements that appear to be successful based on his previous training.

In the future they hope that the robot will go beyond solving predefined problems. It could work in difficult terrain such as debris-strewn disaster areas. It is one of the objectives of the project. But instead of relying solely on machine learning, they will try an approach known as model-based control.


This provides an easier way to teach the robot precise maneuvers. For example, how to recognize and overcome gaps and gaps in piles of rubble. In turn, machine learning helps the robot master movement patterns. You can apply them flexibly in unexpected situations. “The combination of both approaches allows us to get the most out of ANYmal,” they say.

As a result, the robot that can do parkour achieves better balance on slippery surfaces or unstable rocks. ANYmal will soon also be used on construction sites or anywhere that is too dangerous for people. For example, to inspect a collapsed house in a disaster zone, according to researchers.

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