HyQReal quadruped robot can pull a small plane

We've seen Boston Dynamics' Spot Minis play reindeer and pull Santa's truck but those may have nothing on this robot hailing all the way from Italy. Although more a research platform than a commercial robot, the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) Dynamic Legged System Lab's latest HyQReal robot has may have a few things going for it, including its ruggedness, its durability, and, more importantly, its strength.

OK, it's not exactly pulling a Boeing 737 but the fact that a quadruped robot that looks almost like a skeleton can pull a three-ton plane is still an impressive feat. The fact the robot itself weighs 130 kg puts the whole scenario in a better perspective.

Everything about the robot shouts strength. It has a 3D printed titanium body, an aluminum roll cage, and a skin that is a mixture of Kevlar, fiber glass, and plastic. A 15 kg battery powers the robot's parts, which include two hydraulic pumps, one for front legs and one for the hind ones. The HyQReal can operate even while being hosed with water or dumped with sand.

A modern robot, however, isn't just about mechanical parts. The computers inside that make up its brain and nervous system is just as critical. HyQReal has two main computers, one in charge of vision while the other is for overall control.

There is still, however, a lot that even the IIT don't know about its new robot, though. It hasn't yet actually tested how long its battery lasts or how much it can recover after a fall. And while it is remarkable that it can pull such a heavy load, the lab still has to test and refine the quadruped for its true purpose: supporting weak and fleshy humans in emergency situations.