April 08, 2016      

A new bipedal robot from Google-owned SCHAFT made an appearance at the New Economic Summit (NEST) conference in Tokyo.

SCHAFT dominated the 2013 DARPA Robotics Challenge but was pulled from the 2015 DRC Finals, and the company hadn’t been heard from until now.

IEEE reported that SCHAFT’s unnamed robot “is designed to be a low-cost, low-power, compact device to ‘help society.'” It can lift 60 kg, travel over uneven terrain, and even tackle stairs, which are notoriously difficult for robots.

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In the video, shot by a NEST audience member, you’ll see the bipedal robot climb stairs, avoid falling on a pipe, carry a barbell, and vacuum the stairs. Impressive. Here’s more about the demo from the conference, according to IEEE:

“SCHAFT co-founder and CEO Yuto Nakanishi climbed onstage to introduce his company’s new bipedal robot. He explains that the robot can climb stairs, carry a 60-kg payload, and step on a pipe and keep its balance. It can also move in tight spaces, and the video shows the robot climbing a narrow staircase by positioning its legs behind its body (1:22). In a curious part of the demo (1:36), the robot is shown cleaning a set of stairs with a spinning brush and what appears to be a vacuum attached to its feet. Finally, the robot is seen outdoors, negotiating rough terrain, slippery rocks, and snow.”

Interestingly, the unveiling of SCHAFT’s bipedal robot came during Andy Rubin’s NEST keynote. Rubin, of course, was head of Google’s robotics program when it went on a spending spree in 2013 and bought several robotics companies. Google also owns Boston Dynamics, which reportedly is up for sale. Maybe this SCHAFT bipedal robot is why Boston Dynamics is on the chopping block, or maybe SCHAFT will also soon be up for sale. Let us know what you think.