Kawasaki's Rideable Robo-Goat Is The Future We Want

When it comes to quadruped robots, the most famous name happens to be Boston Dynamics' Spot, which costs north of $70,000, can perform some sick dance moves, and is tailored for inspection jobs. Kawasaki wants to go a step further with a more beastly and versatile take on the idea. Say hello to RHP Bex, or simply Bex, a robot that shares its likeness with the species of mountain goats distinguished by their long recurved horns. The brainchild of Robust Humanoid Platform (RHP) at Kawasaki, the team says it developed Bex with the goal of using it as a transportation machine that can haul around materials at a construction site.

At the moment, robotics experts at the Japanese company are targeting a load-carrying capacity of about 220 pounds for Bex. However, the folks over at Kawasaki Heavy Industries note Bex's upper body is a dynamic platform and can be engineered based on the tasks it needs to execute. For example, Bex can be deployed to move around harvested crops in a farm setup, and use the onboard cameras for inspection duties.

Modular and practical

The idea is to bring in partners, assess their specific needs, and accordingly modify Bex's upper body to perform the tasks assigned to it smoothly. In simple words, the design is modular and actually sounds practical. Kawasaki is actually pushing Bex as an open innovation platform. Talking about innovation though, Bex has some really cool engineering behind it. The robot will walk like a quadruped beast of burden, but if the ground isn't bumpy and it needs to move faster, it can fold its knees to reveal a unique hidden wheel system for zipping around.

For those fantasizing about riding a giant robotic ibex, well, there's some good news. The folks over at Kawasaki's RHP division actually gave it seats and handlebars for a human subject to take a joyride on. As for those majestic horns, it's unclear if they're just a cosmetic addition, or if they pack in sensors to serve a purpose. Interestingly, the proverb "Necessity is the mother of all inventions" applies perfectly to Bex. The team was familiar with the potential of humanoid bipedal robots, but also realized that practical application is still far off.

Yes, you can ride it

While the likes of Tesla Bot might be dismissed as vaporware, the reality is that humanoid robots are actually far from mass deployment with meaningful levels of productivity. With quadruped robots that rely on wheels, navigating a rough terrain becomes a hassle. The Kawasaki Robotics team combined those learnings to create the unique movement hardware of Bex and is already thinking of multiple scenarios where it can be safely deployed.

Bex might not match the glorious horns of the Boston Dynamic's custom Big Dog quadruped robot and its matador adventures, but Kawasaki's creation sounds like the best bet on making quadruped robots more mainstream. Also, it is hard to ignore the Megatron vibes emanating from that horn and the glowing purple streaks of light that look like Dark Energon. Cinematic and anime references aside, this robot needs to hit the factories (and streets) ASAP.