They can’t quite measure up to R2D2, but a new array of consumer robots offer all sorts of practical advantages, including companionship, soothing babies back to sleep, playing with pets, folding laundry and making the perfect latte. All 12 of these robot home companions have passed the concept stage into fully-operational products, and many of them are already up for sale.
Cargo Carrier: Gita Bot
From the same company who gave us the Vespa scooter comes Gita, a cargo bot that’ll carry your stuff for you, follow you ask you walk, stop when you do, slow down when necessary and even keep up if you start running. You could use it to haul groceries home from the neighborhood market, deliver packages or as a travel aide; a display screen lets you know when the battery is getting low. One thing that’s not clear is how it manages stairs.
Scooter Bot: Segway Advanced Personal Robot
Recently renamed ‘Loomo,’ the Segway ‘Advanced Personal Robot’ is a cross between a robot companion and a functional scooter, capable of recognizing individuals and following them until it’s needed. It’s able to stay in balance while carrying loads, and its microphones listen for voice commands. Sensors keep it from bumping into objects and help it map your home and other surroundings so it can navigate itself. It’s currently still in development.
Cute Companion: Kuri Home Robot
This 20-inch-tall, 14-pound personal companion robot chirps, blinks and ‘smiles’ in response to your attention, and it’s able to recognize specific people, understand context and surroundings, play music, read books, project video, tell you the weather and perform other useful everyday tasks. The Kuri bot responds to verbal commands and can also be controlled and maintained through a smartphone app.
Pet Entertainer: Rolling Bot by LG
This little bot may not have as much personality as the Kuri, but it’s got some seriously useful functions if you’re the kind of homeowner and/or pet owner who wants to keep a close eye on things while you’re gone. The Rolling Bot by LG is part security system, part pet toy, part smart home gadget with a built-in camera and the capability to roll itself through your home, turning lights on and off, sending you video footage, or entertaining your dogs and cats with dancing and lasers. You can control it through your phone to talk to your pets through it, too.