Oregon-based firm Agility Robots has launched a bipedal robot it hopes will revolutionise the logistics of delivery.
The team behind ‘Cassie’ the robot, led by Agility Robots’ founder and CEO Damion Shelton, originally met at Oregon State University’s College of Engineering. They secured a 16-month, US$1 million ($1.3 million) grant from the US Department of Defense to develop Cassie, though are excited at the potential disruption she could cause in the logistics industry.
“This technology will simply explode at some point, when we create vehicles so automated and robots so efficient that deliveries and shipments are almost free,” said Jonathan Hurst, an associate professor of robotics in the OSU College of Engineering and Chief Technology Officer at Agility Robotics told the University.
“Quite simply, robots with legs can go a lot of places that wheels cannot. This will be the key to deliveries that can be made 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by a fleet of autonomous vans that pull up to your curb, and an on-board robot that delivers to your doorstep.
“This robot capability will free people from weekend shopping chores, reduce energy use, and give consumers more time to do the things they want to do. It effectively brings efficient automated logistics from state-of-the-art warehouses out and into the rest of the world.”
While news site Post & Parcel somewhat accurately described Cassie as resembling a headless ostrich, the team did not set out to give ‘her’ an animal-like appearance .
“We weren’t trying to duplicate the appearance of an animal, just the techniques it uses to be agile, efficient and robust in its movement,” said Hurst.
“We didn’t care what it looked like and were mostly just working to find out why Mother Nature did things a certain way. But even though we weren’t trying to mimic the form, what came out on the other end of our research looked remarkably like an animal leg.”
Agility Robot’s website describes the potential applications the team envisions for Cassie: “A fleet of autonomous vehicles will deliver packages to your curb; a robot will take it to your doorstep. The entire system will be fast, delivering groceries in time for dinner; it will be less expensive than shopping in a store; and it will utilise existing roads and walkways. Automated delivery logistics will revolutionise the retail market.”