Robotics startup aims to disrupt walking with AI roller skates • The Register

Walking – what a burden. How are you supposed to stay on the multi-billion dollar crypto mogul grindset when you have to do something as mundane as put one foot in front of the other to get to your next high-flying presentation?

Well, here comes Shift Robotics to revolutionize the process of movement that mankind has relied on for at least three million years.

Looking for the Fisher-Price roller skates of the ’80s and ’90s but for adults, the company claims its “Moonwalkers” allow users “to go at the speed of a stride” but without all that unseemly sweat and hyperventilation.

Think of that groovy feeling you get when you’re gliding down a moving walkway at an airport, silently poking fun at passers-by who are walking at a regular pace and haven’t yet ascended to godhood. Yes, that, but attached to the soles of the feet.

Shift Moonwalker

Shift Moonwalker

These aren’t just wheeled Crocs, though. These are Crocs with wheels and AI.

How does this work? The moonwalkers are said to be equipped with an “AI powertrain” that “uses machine learning algorithms to adapt to a user’s gait, making them an extension of people’s legs.”

As the company emphasizes, people are still “hiking, not skating”. The moonwalkers don’t skate like ordinary ice skates and reportedly only move when you do, allowing you to “walk up and down stairs, hop on local transit, and wait confidently at the crosswalk.”

“You can stop less than 1 meter from top speed and we’ll automatically regulate your speed downhill,” Shift claims, saying the Moonwalkers will increase your walking speed by 250 percent.

The idea came about when founder and CEO Xunjie Zhang was almost knocked off his scooter by a car while he was a mile away on his way to work. “That’s when Xunjie wondered why he never walked to work,” the company says, but never explains why — it goes straight into the “mission to improve walking, not replace it.”

Youtube video

Most people can expect to run a mile in 15 to 22 minutes, but in this day and age of instant gratification, ridiculous workloads, and even more absurd expectations, we can assume that just isn’t fast enough.

“Our basic form of movement hasn’t changed in six million years, we still walk the way our great-great-great-grandparents walked: slowly,” Zhang says in a promotional video. “The way we walk is stuck in the past. It’s time to update them.”

Just like the Fisher Price skates, the Moonwalkers fit over any shoe. Unlike Fisher Price’s skates, they start at $1,199 for early backers. All the cheaper options on the product’s Kickstarter were snapped up, surpassing the $90,000 target by about 230 percent with 10 days remaining.

The fancy skates charge via USB-C, which means that with a range of 9.65km, you can have them on your desk in an hour and a half before you call it a day, spending less time cruising around town Masses and more time to stuff your crypto into cold wallets or get rid of them altogether. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/14/moonwalker_ai_roller_skates/ Robotics startup aims to disrupt walking with AI roller skates • The Register

Rick Schindler

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