But Boston Dynamics isn’t the only robotics company under Alphabet’s wing (which is a good thing considering that Alphabet is reportedly ready to sell the division); it also has another company to fall back on called Schaft. Schaft was born out of the JSK Robotics Laboratory in Tokyo and won DARPA’s 2013 Robotics Challenge in convincing fashion.
Schaft’s latest [unnamed] robot was unveiled this week at NEST 2016, and it’s a quite capable little machine. The bipedal robot is capable of navigating difficult/uneven terrain, stairs and can even lift up to 130 pounds while performing these tasks. In a video that rolled during its global debut, Schaft’s robot is seen traversing sand, pebbly shores and even snow.
The robot is impressively capable of climbing up and down stairs on its own (without tethers) and in one demonstration, it has spinning brushes and a vacuum attached to its feet to clean steps as it walks over them.
Despite its impressive walking and climbing abilities, the robot still seems rather limited as it doesn’t have any arms to assist in performing tasks. And unlike the Boston Dynamics Atlas, it likely won’t be propping itself back up after being knocked down by its “evil” human handlers.
Even so, you won’t be seeing a production version of this robot anytime soon. Representatives for Alphabet’s X division said that Schaft doesn’t have a “product announcement or indication of a specific product roadmap," and that “the team was simply delighted to have a chance to show them latest progress."
We should also mention that the folks over at Engadget seem to think that the robot looks like the TARS companion from Interstellar. Perhaps if you squint a bit you can see the resemblance, but I’m not completely sold on that one yet…