Boston Dynamics door-opening robot has some creepy competition

Watch out Spot Mini. There's another door-opening robot in town, Anymal.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

We witnessed the door-opening prowess of Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot Spot Mini earlier this year with a mix of fear and respect. But Spot Mini isn't the only quadrapedal bot with the ability to paw-open portals. Please make room in your nightmares for Anymal.

Robotic Systems Lab at the ETH Zurich university in Switzerland posted a progress update on Anymal's abilities on Friday. 

The footage shows Anymal using an articulated arm to turn a handle, push a door open and walk through. A human standing nearby shoves it around a bit, but it doesn't complain and makes it through the task just fine.

The last time we checked on Anymal, it was summoning an elevator. Now that it can handle doors, too, pretty much nowhere is safe. 

But we may not have to worry. Anymal is actually adorably helpful. Once you get past the door-opening sequence, the robot shows off how it can pick up trash and put it away in a bin. 

Anymal can also move around while holding a glass of water and not spill a drop. It then shows how it can help a human lift and move a box. Who's a good bot? Anymal is.

Robotic Systems Lab is using the video to demonstrate a system called ALMA, which stands for Articulated Locomotion and Manipulation. 

"The torque controllability of the whole system enables the implementation of compliant behavior, allowing a user to safely interact with the robot in a very natural way," the lab says. 

Anybotics, a spinoff from the Robotic Systems Lab, is working to commercialize Anymal for use in industrial inspections, surveying and mapping, surveillance, first-response situations, and even   entertainment. I'm thinking a robot petting zoo could do well.

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