Robots on the CES show floor are really nothing new at this point. You come to expect to see that sort of thing when you’re walking through the Las Vegas Convention Center in early January while the tech industry is gathered round showing off their latest gizmos and gadgets. But the robot delivery demo that German auto firm Continental had at its space in the North Hall was one that kept me engaged for more time than I care to admit.
Though best known for the tires they produce, Continental had a rather unique—albeit controlled—demonstration on the floor that was done in collaboration with robotics company ANYbotics. There, the two showed off what could someday be the future of package delivery. Using one of its ANYmal robots with Continental branding and a little package holder attached to the top of it, ANYbotics had the robot hop out of the back of a self-driving delivery van, walk up a couple of porch steps, ring a doorbell, and drop the package right there in front of the door before returning to the van. Along the way, the robot had to navigate its way around some debris and other obstacles.
I feel like, with all of the Boston Dynamics videos that I’ve seen of robots opening doors and doing retail labor I should’ve been prepared for this moment, but it was still incredibly fascinating to watch a four-legged piece of machinery navigate its surroundings and perform a task to perfection. Aside from the controlled demo, other moves the robot made were controlled by a human holding a remote control. Péter Fankhauser, one of ANYbotics cofounders, who was manning the ANYmal, assured me that the robot could operate very well on its own, but it was best, given the circumstances involved with operating on a giant tradeshow floor, that he should maintain the controls when the demo was not live.