Saddle Up Sci-Fi Cowboys, Kawasaki Has a Rideable Robotic Goat

Move over robot dogs.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
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Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Sure, Spot the Boston Dynamics robot dog regularly makes headlines -- it can even impersonate Mick Jagger. But robot dogs are so last week now that Kawasaki has created a robotic, rideable goat.

The goat has been dubbed Bex, because it's really supposed to be an ibex, which refers to certain species of wild goat. It has horns that light up, and delicate legs that can be lowered and then sprout wheels. And it's strong enough that a full-sized human can mount it like a horse and ride it around. 

Kawasaki has been working on a "Robust Humanoid Platform" (RHP) called Kaleido since 2015.

"Halfway between humanoid robots and wheeled robots, [we] wondered if there was an opportunity," Masayuki Soube of Kawasaki said in an interview translated by IEEE Spectrum. "That's why we started developing Bex, a quadruped walking robot. We believe that the walking technology cultivated in the development of humanoid robots can definitely be applied to quadruped walking robots."

Soube went on to say Bex can carry light cargo or crops, and it contains cameras that can help with industrial plant inspections. Its upper body can be adapted for different needs, depending on how it's going to be used. It can carry up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds).

One thing's for sure: Bex won't be running in the Kentucky Derby. A video shot last week at Japan's iREX robot trade show reveals Bex carrying a rider around a display booth at a very, shall we say, casual pace.

Snarked one YouTube commenter, "That's the slowest mountain goat ever."