This year at the International Robot Exhibition (or iRex 2022) in Japan, we learned that if you want to stand out in the robot animal arms race, you have to think bigger. Kawasaki Heavy Industries revealed the 'RHP Vex', a quadruped robot that sort of resembles the horse you get in Elden Ring. But instead of being a mystical spirit steed that can double jump, it's a robot horse with LED horns that can deploy an aerial drone from its back.
According to etnews, the Vex is a robot with a 100kg load capacity designed for transporting people and things, like an artificial pack mule/mountain goat hybrid. The Vex employs wheels for flat surfaces, along with walking around on its four legs to traverse uneven terrains.
The legs can move using V-Sido, a robot control system that allows the generating gait motion so the legs move in an almost locomotive-like cadence. In-wheel mode, the Vex drops down to its knees where the wheels are in case it's in a hurry. Another wheel pops out of its belly for stability.
According to Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the Vex can link up with a network of autonomous delivery robots and successfully had the K-Racer unmanned drone take off and land on its back in a test last year. The idea is that, in theory, the Vex can climb rough and harsh terrain at high elevations to deliver cargo or deploy a drone in areas too unsafe for people or vehicles to get to.
I don't know about you, but as soon as I hear it can 'deploy' anything, I fear that the Vex can go from being this cute robot horse that can deliver beer to the mountains to a cute robot horse with a minigun on its back like the robot dogs in Battlefield 2042. The Witcher 3's Roach and especially Metal Gear Solid 5's D-Horse must be envious of the versatility.
I know what you're about to ask. Yes, you can ride the robot horse. The Vex can be operated on board with a steering wheel, oddly, or remotely using a joystick. Whether it's as fun to ride like those things in Horizon Zero Dawn, I can't say. But one day, I hope to ride the Vex.