If you have a passing interest in robots, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Spot the robotic dog from Boston Dynamics. It’s an impressive, if slightly eerie, machine that keeps showing its usefulness through dance. But now, it’s crown as the best robotic animal is under attack from a robot goat from Kawasaki.
The four-legged creation is all polished white surfaces, flashing LEDs and angular styling. Honestly, it would look right at home roaming the fields of some gleaming sci-fi base of the future.
It has two impressive gray horns and four spindly legs, which it can walk on or it can also “kneel down” and use wheels to scoot around.
Unveiled at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, the robotic goat was premiered alongside a humanoid creation, called Kaleido. But, the bipedal bot was far less exciting than its four-legged counterpart for one very simple reason: you can ride on the back of the robot goat.
Yep, any eagle-eyed readers will probably have spotted the handles on the back of Bex’s neck, they’re so you can hold on for dear life as the robot goat gallops across the metaverse. It’s a beautiful thought, traversing the mountains of a future Earth on the back of your robot goat with your flowing hair billowing in the toxic air. Lovely stuff.
In an interview on Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ website, Masayuki Soube, who led the development of the two robots, explained that Bex was being designed to transport heavy goods around industrial sites.
Soube explained that it was being made with the goal of carrying around 160kg of stuff, such as crops of building materials. You might think, why not just use a truck to do this?
Well, Soube explains that Bex’s legs make it better at traversing uneven ground than a wheeled creation, but that the wheels at its knees make it a speedy delivery service when the ground flattens out.
That all sounds very impressive, but why make it look like a goat? Again, Soube has an explanation for this, but you might not like it.
He says that the bottom half of the robot and its legs are still under development to make them work better in a range of scenarios. But, the goat body was just used for the demonstration device, and Kawasaki will instead work with partners to develop the most suitable upper for their needs.
So sadly, we might not soon see fleets of robot goats working on constructions sites in Manhattan. Let’s just hope they don’t give the robot goats guns.