Shift’s Moonwalker: The Electric Shoe Skates


Shift Robotics has developed Moonwalkers, electric skate footwear that will revolutionize the way people walk. During Automate Show 2023, these electric shoe skates were featured and its development is overseen by Abe Pleta, the lead design integration engineer. The design is inspired by the desire of Xunjie Zhand to commute faster to his university. The Shift Moonwalkers are safe and reliable with motorized and non-motorized wheels allowing you to travel at 7 miles per hour.

Looking at someone skate-walking down the halls of Huntington Place convention center in Detroit wearing a $1,400 footwear. This sounds crazy but it is true. The person is Abram Pleta, the lead design integration engineer and mechanic as well as third employee at Shift Robotics. The name of the company clarifies their focus and the product is different from all the robot arms at the show.

The startup was apparently at the Automate Show as a representative of the Pittsburgh consortium. A small group of interesting companies based in the area also attended the event which also included a drone inventory firm Gather AI.

Shift Robotics designed Moonwalker shoes that have the potential to help people walk smarter and not harder. The company was founded by Xunjie Zhand in 2018. Previously he worked at Rolls-Royce and later went on to study mechatronics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

In this context, Pleta says, “He was trying to get to work and was frequently late. He thought, ‘Okay, I’ll buy a scooter, so I don’t have to look for parking spots. And then, I’m going to get hit by a car. I need to use the sidewalk. Walking is too slow. How can we make it faster?’ That is the genesis of the idea.”

They worked for years to develop something like Moonwalkers after which the company launched their product Kickstarter last October. The company was a viral hit even without a marketing team and reached its $95,000 goal in just 2 days. Eventually, things slowed down from there but still, the company managed to do a business of about $329,000 by the end of the campaign.

The crowdfunding campaign helped Shift confirm that there was a market for their electric skates or semi-skating footwear priced at $1,400, and it also provided them with additional publicity. As the company grows and expands, it can gradually decrease the price to make its products more affordable for customers.

According to Pleta, all backers have received their Moonwalkers and now Shift is processing post-Kickstarter orders. The company will raise a Series A this year after successfully crowdfunding.

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About the Shift Moonwalker

Electric shoe skates have total ten wheels and there are four motorized two-wheel clusters with a pair of nonmotorized wheels up front. Wheels are made from polyurethane. The ball of the foot activates the movement of non-motorized wheels like roller skates or blades. Otherwise, motorizing them could have been a potential hazard for the wearer.

The Moonwalkers are capable of travelling up to 7 miles per hour or roughly 2.5 times a standard human walk. Pleta adds, “You can really catch some speed on the moving walkway at the airport, getting closer to 12 mph. They should also get through airport security without much of an issue.”

Despite the name, these electric shoe skates are fairly heavy at around 4 pounds, which takes some time to get used to. The heavy weight is due to the drive trains and batteries which, according to Shift, should get about a 6 miles range on a single charge.

The wheels remain locked in place until you give the right shoe a heel pivot that will turn the white light on the side to green. This way you do not have to worry about falling down while adjusting the Velcro straps. After this, the operation is pretty much similar to roller skating. Pleta stated that the firm frequently modifies the algorithms, and that they will be provided through an OTA firmware update.

Pleta further added, “We’re figuring that out as we go. So far, we’ve had zero injuries in five years of development. None of our backers or customers have been injured yet.”

Source: Shift Robotics

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