Google-owned Schaft has developed a new robot that may not have a complete body, but can carry out basic moves like walking up stairs. The robot was debuted onstage at Japan’s New Economic Summit staged in Tokyo last week and has got tongues wagging about Google’s next foray into the robotics market.
The legs and torso may not look much, but those who have set their eyes upon the cute critter say it’s pretty intelligent, with balancing skills comparable to a human.
It works using its rigid legs that slide up and down – almost like pistons – as it takes steps. They lift without bending like normal legs, while the joints at the top, where they join the body, aren’t fully fixed, meaning they flow much more freely than traditional fixed robotic limbs.
The angled ankles at the bottom further add to the flexibility, making the as-yet-unnamed robot a perfect option for using on uneven surfaces, such as rocks, sand soil or other ground that has a tendency to move frequently.
It’s also very strong. A video uploaded to YouTube shows the robot carrying weight up to 60kg of cargo, despite being much smaller than many of the robots on the market, advertised to help carry heavy loads.
Schaft was acquired by Google in 2013 and it seems either a lot of thought (three years’ worth to be precise) has gone into creating this innovation or it was put on the backburner while Google concentrated on more pressing matters as part of its Google X (now called Alphabet X) Labs project.
Although the robot’s maker hasn’t revealed what its intended use is, it would seem Alphabet – Google’s parent company – has set its sights high for this particular gadget.