Shift Robotics, located in Austin, will showcase a revised version of its virally hit robotic shoes at CES next week. The Moonwalker X is a full-pound lighter per shoe with significant control system enhancements. The new sneakers will also come in smaller sizes.
When the initial Moonwalkers were revealed via Kickstarter in October 2022, they caused quite a stir online. Videos of individuals appearing to glide across sidewalks quickly raised $329,000.
I wrote them up in May after having the opportunity to test them out at the Automate convention in Detroit. Like many others, I expressed concern about two significant flaws in the system. First, each shoe weighed four pounds. Second, there is a distinct learning curve, as I immediately learned when navigating a crowded trade floor.
With the revised versions of the sneakers released next week, it appears the firm has addressed both difficulties. The sneakers will go on sale soon, though the specific date and price have yet to be announced. At $1,400, the originals were too expensive. Of course, R&D costs have a significant role in first-generation hardware prices. A short manufacturing run was almost definitely included as well; pricing per unit tends to fall dramatically as you grow.
Last year, I was shocked to see the high-tech roller skates at an industrial event like Automate. Still, as I reported then, Shift has found a significant potential market in the logistics/warehouse industry.
“Our focus in developing X was clear: increasing productivity without compromising safety,” says creator and CEO Xunjie Zhang in a press statement. “By collaborating closely with our 3PL partners, we’ve tuned Moonwalkers X to meet the rigors of warehouse environments with an unwavering commitment to worker safety.”
Concentrating on business efficiency makes sense since the price will almost certainly stay prohibitively expensive for many consumers. Companies would gladly spend money on technologies that would save them money in the long term. More to come next week as we get hands-on at CES.