Legged robots are finding use in construction, utilities, and infrastructure inspection. Global drive specialist maxon Group and autonomous robot supplier ANYbotics AG today announced a strategic partnership they said would strengthen Switzerland as a prime location for robotics. The companies said maxon will develop and produce actuators for ANYbotics’ ANYmal robot.
maxon has 60 years of experience making brushed and brushless DC motors, as well as gearheads, encoders, controllers, and entire mechatronic systems. Its drives are used in highly demanding applications such as NASA’s Mars rovers, surgical tools, and humanoid robots. The company, which won a 2020 RBR50 innovation award, has more than 3,000 employees at nine production sites and sales representation in more than 30 countries.
ANYbotics spun out of ETH Zurich in 2016, and its staff of 50 has been developing and marketing its autonomous robot for use in multiple industries. ANYmal is designed for inspection and monitoring, said the startup. The quadruped robot can climb stairs and inclines, and it could also be used to take on dangerous maintenance tasks, according to ANYbotics.
ANYbotics and maxon to expand production, marketing
maxon Group said its global production infrastructure and validated processes will help to advance the industrialization and commercialization of ANYmal. Each robot uses 12 high-performance drive systems.
“In maxon, we have found the ideal partner for taking care of our drive technology as we transition from small series to mass production,” stated Péter Fankhauser, CEO of ANYbotics. “With maxon’s expertise and infrastructure, we will be able to further optimize a core element of our robots and access state-of-the-art production methods.”
“By collaborating with ANYbotics, we are merging know-how from different worlds,” said Eugen Elmiger, CEO of maxon Group. “The creativity and high responsiveness of a startup are paired with the global and stable industrial environment of the maxon Group. Together, we will create an energy-efficient and intelligent robotic drive, the likes of which has never been seen before.”
The companies said they expect to soon market ANYmal in large quantities, and ANYbotics’ robotics experience will help maxon reach more markets.
Swiss collaboration includes new lab
ANYbotics recently won the Swiss Economic Award 2020 and has been chosen as the best young entrepreneur in Switzerland in the Hightech/Biotech category.
To further cement their partnership, the two companies are also getting closer geographically. maxon, whose headquarters are in the canton of Obwalden, is opening a laboratory in the Oerlikon district of Zurich, not far from ANYbotics’ Zurich campus. Here, the engineers and technicians will meet to discuss the progress of their projects.
In addition, maxon wants to use the lab to get even closer to ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, offer technical support to young engineers, provide workspaces, and get talent on board.
“We are already heavily involved with vocational education in and around Zurich and Lucerne,” said Elmiger. “With the new lab, we will be in an even better position to support talents in drive technology and robotics.”