Science fiction has portrayed futuristic robots in a variety of ways, including that of a helpful assistant, including Star Wars’ R2-D2 and C-3PO.
To date, there hasn’t been anything close to the sophisticated AI and multi-functional abilities of robots like these, though there continues to be prominent strides in consumer robot technology. There has been a prominent shift from basic cleaning robots to more intelligent and intuitive personal assistants or family companions.
Three consumer robots, in particular, are catching the attention of robot enthusiasts, both for their friendly appearance and number of intuitive features. Kuri, Hadrian X and Lynx offer some exciting opportunities:
1. Kuri Home Robot
For $799, you can have yourself a cute, 14 pound robot from Mayfield Robotics called Kuri. About 20 inches tall with a friendly disposition and blinking eyes, the mobile robot features a built-in HD camera, four microphones, dual speakers, wi-fi and Bluetooth.
Smart home capabilities are also offered, including live stream capabilities that can have Kuri double as a security system.
You can use iOS and Android apps to control Kuri, in addition to voice control. Kuri has expressive eyes, multi-colored chest lights and other means of expressing emotions.
Mayfield brought in a former Pixar animator to help bring Kuri to life, so don’t be surprised if you see it resemble Wall-E in appearance. Mayfield plans to expand Kuri’s voice recognition abilities, improve its mapping algorithm and provide more reactions and emotions in the future.
The emphasis on Kuri’s personality is an indication of the industry’s willingness to prioritize how being around a robot can feel natural. For Kuri, touch sensors on its head will result in responses.
Kuri is anticipated to be available for the holiday season and is currently accepting pre-orders.
2. Beyond Consumers: Robots for Business
Home robots like Kuri are so practical in providing some services, from security monitoring to reading you an eBook. As a result, it makes sense that businesses like Caterpillar are making significant investments in robotic technology. They recently invested in Fastbrick Robotics, the maker of a one-armed robot bricklayer machine called Hadrian X, which will go into full production in 2019.
The robot requires minimal interaction and can work day and night, laying up to 1000 bricks per hour, the same output of two human bricklayers for a day. Its prototype, the Hadrian 105 robot, can be seen in action here.
More and more companies have adopted robots like these. As time progresses, we will see robotics emerge as a strong player in some fields. After all, finding ways to keep costs low is a must for technical and industrial companies that want to remain competitive. Considering that Fastbrick’s shares jumped 23 percent following Caterpillar’s investment, robotics companies will certainly not be wary of similar collaborations.
3. UBTECH Robotics’ Lynx
Another example of a consumer robot emerging, like Kuri, is UBTECH Robotics’ Lynx. The robot can work off Alexa voice commands and was recently introduced at CES 2017, alongside China’s Bubblelab, a robot barista, and a candy-pouring robot called Waybot.
Lynx has arms and legs and can even provide examples regarding exercise like yoga, which speaks to its flexibility. Lynx is expected to cost $800 to $1,000 when it releases later this year.
This variety of consumer robots shows the industry is growing at an exciting rate, catering to both specific niches as well as those seeking a personal assistant or family companion.
Kuri, Hadrian X and Lynx all offer something different, though share the characteristic of being an exciting example of consumer robots that seem too futuristic to be true.
Image by Alex Knight