Secretive Chinese tech firm Tencent’s foot-tall robot on wheels can leap chasms, somersault and even bring you a latte
- Ollie is Tencent’s first bipedal robot, using wheels instead of feet
- In a promo video, the bot takes stairs, sloped terrain and even a climbs a wrecking ball without stumbling
- Ollie flips 360 degrees to bridge a gap between two platforms
- Tencent says Ollie can hop 16-inch steps and has a vertical leap of 24 inches
- The robot has trajectory planning capabilities to plan how to tackle an obstacle
Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent has debuted a robot that can glide along uneven surfaces, somersault over chasms, and complete a 24-inch vertical leap—all with wheels instead of feet.
Ollie, the latest creation from Tencent’s Robotics X Lab, got to show its moves on June 3 at the 2021 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Xi’an, China.
In a promotional video, the bouncing bot takes stairs, sloped terrain and even a wrecking ball without falling over.
It even does a somersault, flipping 360 degrees to bridge a gap between two platforms.
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Tencent, which refers to Ollie as a ‘novel wheel-legged robot,’ says it can hop up 16-inch steps and has a maximum vertical jump of 24 inches
Tencent, which refers to Ollie as a ‘novel wheel-legged robot’ says it can hop up 16-inch steps and has a maximum vertical jump of 24 inches.
Tencent took a page from animal physiology, giving Ollie a ‘multifunctional actuated tail’ that enables it to complete acrobatic stunts, lower itself to the ground and transition from two wheels to three to stand up taller.
Robotics X Lab director Zhang Zhengyou indicted the robot also has trajectory planning capabilities, ‘meaning that Ollie can plan its approach before going up against challenges,’ according to Shenszen Daily.
Ollie’s height is adjustable, lowering down to just over one foot or cranking up to just under two feet, depending on the task.
Ollies articulated legs and wheels allow it to traverse uneven terrain like this sloped path
In case you’re wondering what an agile, wheeled robot could do, the video also includes a demo of Ollie picking a cup of coffee from a barista with a special arm attachment and sensor and delivering it to a seated customer.
In March, Tencent unveiled Max, its first multimodal quadruped robot, which can run, jump and leap over obstacles like an animal, as well as glide on wheels on flat surfaces.
Ollie can leap 24 inches from a still position to reach a platform. It can also do a 360-degree somersault through the air to clear a gap between two platforms
Tencent seems to be edging into Boston Dynamics territory: BD’s Spot has articulated legs to maneuver through tricky terrain, but it can’t do a 360-degree flip.
Founded in 1998, Tencent is a Chinese technology conglomerate holding company, with subsidiaries in Internet services, artificial intelligence and gaming.
Valued at more than $500 billion, Tencent is the world’s largest vendor of video games, according to Bloomberg, and it is among the biggest social media companies, too—owning Chinese messenger services WeChat and Tencent QQ.
A special arm attachment allows Ollie to bring a coffee to a customer
Lightspeed & Quantum Studios, a Guangdong-based game developer owned by Tencent’s Interactive Entertainment Group, made headlines this week by announcing it was revolting against the country’s ‘996’ work culture—where employees are expected to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.
According to Sixth Tone, a memo from Lightspeed & Quantum management told employees Wednesdays are ‘health days,’ where everybody has to leave work by 6pm.
Staffers need advance approval to work later than 9pm on other weekdays, or to work on weekends or holidays.