Alphabet-owned robot start-up shows off peculiar bipedal bot

11 Apr 2016

The un-named Schaft robot displayed at NEST 2016. Image via robotopia/Twitter

A Japanese robotic start-up called Schaft, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has released footage of its unnamed bipedal robot that looks like something from Star Wars.

Alphabet as an entity has invested considerable sums of money into robotics development, most noticeably in the robotics research lab Boston Dynamics, which has been responsible for releasing many of the videos of robots that have terrified and intrigued people in equal measure recently.

However, there was news last month that it could be looking to sell off the robotics company due to high costs, and is now looking elsewhere for developments.

Step forward Schaft, a Japanese start-up spun out of the University of Tokyo that has now revealed its latest robot, which looks more like a Star Wars robot than any humanoid-like one seen before.

According to The Guardian, the unnamed robot is aimed at one day becoming an assistant to humans in carrying up to 60kg in weight across even the most difficult of terrain.

Not a product announcement

More importantly, the bipedal robot, once released on the market, would be a low-power, low-cost unit, according to Schaft.

In a demonstration video to those attending its announcement, the robot was put through its paces with a number of obstacles placed in its path, which it manages to handle fairly well.

The technology the start-up has been developing has remained largely under wraps since it was purchased by Google back in 2013, with it since going on to win the lucrative DARPA robotics challenge in the same year.

Speaking at the New Economic Summit where the robot unveiling was held, a spokesperson for Schaft said the robot “wasn’t a product announcement or indication of a specific product roadmap. The team was simply delighted to have a chance to show their latest progress”.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic