Shift Robotics' Moonwalkers make gliding around warehouses and distribution centers a practical possibility for employees who spend countless hours on their feet.
One of Time magazine's 200 Best Inventions of 2023, the Moonwalker, a quirky robotic shoe that slides on like a Teva over a regular shoe, could help warehouse workers, according to Robb. and people doing similar jobs can “walk as fast as they run.” Mr. Vickery is Global Director of Business Development for Shift Robotics, Inc. in Austin, Texas.
This is with the help of AI-powered neuromusculoskeletal algorithms that mirror human movements and synchronize each shoe with the others, quickly adapting to and enhancing the user's natural gait and speed. To do. Shift Robotics claims that Moonwalkers X can travel up to 7 miles per hour.
Dave Mawhinney, founding director of Shift Robotics, said the futuristic shoe could help accelerate the pace of walking, a daily human task.
“We call [them] Because it looked like he was gliding, like moonwalking with Michael Jackson. It feels like you're gliding. The best analogy I can give is the movement of people at an airport. You ride there just walking normally, but you pass everyone much faster. That’s exactly how these shoes feel,” Mawhinney told Sourcing Journal.
Additionally, the increased speed that warehouse employees gain from leveraging high-tech technology has significantly increased productivity in tests with early partners. In all of the company's case studies, Mawhinney said productivity immediately doubled, and in some cases he doubled.
Vickery said the rapid rise will recoup the company's investment in Moonwalkers within a month.
Mawhinney said that as customers realize increased productivity, employee satisfaction will also increase.
“One of our warehouse workers said to his boss…'I used to have the worst job in the company. Now I have the best job in the company.'” It makes work fun again,” he said.
Shift Robotics found its roots at Carnegie Mellon University's Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, where Mawhinney is executive director.
The company's CEO, Xunjie Zhang, first shared the idea for Moonwalkers with Mawhinney as a graduate student pursuing a master's degree in robotics at a prestigious university in Pittsburgh.
Zhang told Mawhinney about his “crazy ideas” when he was a student, and after graduating in 2017, he moved to the Swartz Center as an entrepreneur.
From there, Chan and his team of engineers created nine prototypes that would eventually become the original Moonwalker. This robot shoe is specifically designed for commercial use in warehouses, distribution centers, and other logistics operations that require constant walking.
Vickery said the new version has six wheels on each shoe instead of 10, making it lighter, faster and quicker than the original.
In the updated version, the gearbox is made of magnesium, which reduces the weight of each shoe by one pound.
And in the future, Vickery said, wearers will be able to accelerate faster and glide from point A to point B more quickly than ever before. In the original Moonwalker, engineers chose slower acceleration as a design choice for safety reasons.
Safety has always been at the heart of Shift Robotics, Mawhinney emphasized. That's why there were no injuries or accidents in tests the company conducted with Swedish home goods giant IKEA and discount technology giant PC Liquidations.
Shift Robotics plans to begin shipping Moonwalkers X footwear in the first half of 2024, but no official release date or price has been disclosed. The first version of his Moonwalker costs him $1,400, but it remains to be seen whether the price of the latest version will go up or down.
Electric shoes use a battery that takes about an hour to fully charge, giving the shoe a one-hour lifespan.
With that in mind, companies looking to get the most benefit from roller skate-adjacent shoes should buy two pairs per employee, Mawhinney said. And so far, our partners are doing just that.
“This is an electric car under your feet,” he said.
Shift Robotics has not yet partnered with any warehouse or distribution center that specializes solely in the fashion or footwear sector.
So far, many of the original Moonwalker's sales have come from individual consumers looking to travel faster or have more maneuverability.
That could change quickly, as Shift Robotics will be attending the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.
“We've built our production capacity to be able to produce thousands of pairs. Our coming out party to the B2B side is CES,” Vickery told Sourcing Journal. “The opportunity to scale up quickly is on the B2B side, but not abandoning the B2C side at all. It's part of our long-term growth plan.”