Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Kawasaki unveils Bex robotic goat that people can ride

At the 2022 International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Kawasaki has unveiled a rideable goat-shaped robot that has wheels and can carry a human being on its back. Named Bex, the four-legged robot is modeled after an ibex, a type of wild mountain found in Eurasia, North Africa, and East Africa.

The Bex robot is built as a part of the company’s Kaleido program, which has seen its work on bipedal robots since 2015. Apparently, the engineers were aiming to build a robot that could both move quickly across level ground and navigate tricky terrain.

As shown in a video shared on YouTube by Kazumichi Moriyama, the quadruped robot demonstrates its slow but steady walking ability at the show. It moves similarly to Boston Dynamics’ famous four-legged dog robots, though not nearly as quickly or elegantly.

The Blex robot features a set of wheels on its knees, allowing it to move faster on smooth surfaces than the glacial pace it plods along when walking. The robot can be outfitted with a passenger-carrying back that supports a rider up to 220 pounds (100 kg). The ride can control the robotic goat via the handlebars.

Kawasaki Robotics says Bex could be used to carry crops on farmland or to transport materials at a construction site. In addition, the robotic goat can be used to carry out site inspections remotely, much like Spot is already doing at Hyundai factories in Korea. It is also claimed that the robot can have other modular upper bodies, which means it could likely be outfitted with cargo-carrying attachments, so it doesn’t have to look like a goat.

Kawasaki engineers were clearly looking at the versatility of the robot and even achieved it to a certain extent. In the next development stages, the company will explore giving Bex humanoid arms.