Google X needs your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle

Google parent Alphabet demos walking robot at NEST. It’s from a group in its “X” lab, called SCHAFT (can you dig it?)

Schaft Google robot
Credit: @robotopia

Schaft schows bipedal ’bot with unbelievable balance. The Alphabet-née-Google X team’s leader, Nakanishi-san, demonstrated Anonobot-chan at the Japanese junket called New Economic Summit 2016.

Stand by for a bunch of bored bloggers blogging about ED209 and Skynet. [You're fired -Ed.]

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. In IT Blogwatch, you have 20 seconds to comply, or he’ll be back. Not to mention: Robotics is hard


What’s the craic? Evan Ackerman and Erico Guizzo watch this Awesome New Bipedal Robot:

In 2013 [Google] (now Alphabet) acquired...some of the most capable and interesting robotics companies. ... One of those companies was SCHAFT, which...is best known for winning the DARPA...Trials by an absurd amount.

NEST 2016...is going on in Tokyo. [SCHAFT] brought a brand new bipedal robot along with some absolutely incredible video.

SCHAFT co-founder and CEO Yuto Nakanishi...explains that the robot can climb stairs...keep its balance [while] negotiating rough terrain, slippery rocks, and snow. ... An X spokesperson says [it] “wasn’t a product announcement or indication of a specific product roadmap.”


Much of this fuss was kicked off by a tweet. Well, several tweets, from Tim "robotopia" Hornyak:

Yuto Nakanishi from Google #robot developer #Schaft shows off latest bipedal robot, which can carry 60kg.

No name yet for...prototype bipedal robot...which can tackle uneven terrain...aimed at helping society by carrying heavy loads.

ベンチャー株式会社SCHAFTの新しい二足方向プロトタイプロボット #NEST2016.


Work it. Mike Murphy muses it's a leggy diva that walks with a confident strut:

While Boston Dynamics and its Atlas robot have dominated headlines...another Alphabet company...Schaft, is working on a new robot, which its cofounder...Nakanishi, showed off. [It] can overcome hurdles that many bipedal robots can’t.

The robot, which is almost all legs...walks around with a confident strut...andovercome obstacles...something some of Boston Dynamics’ robots haven’t had the best of luck with. ... An Alphabet spokesperson said that the Schaft team...wanted to show off how [it] can navigate situations like stairs or slippery rocks on a beach.


Are you ready? Corey Fedde was born again ready—Google robot reimagines walking:

The as-yet-unnamed robot stood about three feet tall and was almost all leg. ... Rather than trying to mimic the lanky gait of a human...the new bot accomplished a more clunky waddle.

[Its] legs are almost entirely straight and pivot from the top. ... An “ankle”...adjusts to ensure the robot lands with a flat foot. ... It is small enough to maneuver in a house, can walk up stairs, and can carry up to 132 pounds.


It seems a practical proposition. So says Devin Coldewey—Alphabet’s secretive Schaft Inc.:

It might not be as cute as Nao, as creepy as Spot and BigDog or as anthropomorphic as Atlas. ... The nameless robot strutted onstage [with] Nakanishi and facing a delighted crowd.

Rather than imitate a human gait...a remarkably complex controlled-falling affair, [it has] rigid legs that slide up and down. ... Batteries and motors are suspended between...creating a naturally low center of gravity.

The video shows...the robot repeatedly slipping on a metal bar placed under it by its human captors. ... We’ll probably see this footage again when Skynet reminds us why we can’t be allowed to live.


Update: So is this cool? Here's what Alfred Poor thinks:

This is very cool. And I like the configuration.

It makes so much sense to put the center of gravity below the "hips." I bet it requires a lot less energy to stay balanced.


And it really climbs stairs with just a hip-like pivot at the top, plus an ankle? CanadianRealist disagrees:

I had trouble picturing how a pair of straight legs which could only pivot would allow walking up and down stairs. If you watch closely in the video the pivot point on the leg moves up and down.

The inside of the leg (meaning side towards the middle, not interior) has a track allowing the pivot point to move up and down the leg. Interesting idea which seems to work quite well.

And Finally…

Demonstrating walking robots is hard


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