(Pocket-lint) – If you’re anything like us, you probably can’t wait for the day you can go to the store and easily (and cheaply) buy a robot to clean your house, wait on you and do whatever you want.
We know that day is a long way off, but technology is getting better all the time. In fact, some high-tech companies have already developed some pretty impressive robots that make us feel like the future is here already. These robots aren’t super-intelligent androids or anything – but hey, baby steps.
We’ve rounded up real-life robots you can check out right now, with the purpose of getting you excited for the robots of tomorrow.
Robear is a high-tech teddy designed to lift an elderly patient from a bed into a wheelchair.
Robear comes from Toshiharu Mukai, a scientist who leads the Robot Sensor Systems Research Team at the Riken-SRK Collaboration Center for Human-Interactive Robot Research. Robear is the team’s third robot bear.
GOOGLE BOSTON DYNAMICS
Spot is just one of many different robots created by Boston Dynamics. He’s smaller than the first-generation LS3 Big Dog, but just as capable.
Spot is a 73kg electrically-powered and hydraulically-actuated robot that can walk, trot, climb, and take a kick and stay standing. Here’s hoping Google adapts it for use by everyone soon.
If you like the look of Spot but want something more affordable then you’ll like the look of the Xiaomi CyberDog.
This is a quadruped robot capable of moving as fast as 3.2 meters per second. It’s capable of object motion tracking, creating real-time maps, avoiding obstacles as it moves and more.
CyberDog is powered by Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier A.I. platform so it’s got some serious intelligence under the hood too. Yours for just 9,999 Chinese yuan (about $1,540).
A bird-legged drone
Stanford engineers have developed a new robot with features inspired by a bird that include claws, curling toes and bendable legs.
The published research shows a bot that’s able to land like a bird on branches and other surfaces. This will certainly make it easier for future drones and robots to land. And in more places too.
Henn na Hotel
A hotel in southwestern Japan, called Weird Hotel, is staffed almost totally by robots to save labor costs.
The hotel is called Henn na Hotel in Japanese and was shown to reporters, complete with robot demonstrations. One feature demoed was the use of facial recognition instead of e-keys during check-in. An interesting view of the future?
At the 2014 CeBIT expo in Hanover, German software developer Tobit had a booth showcasing two pole dancing robots and a robot DJ with a megaphone for a head. The two bots could dance in time to the music.
AVA ROBOTICS INC.
Ava Robotics has designed a robot that allows workers to easily move around a remote location as if they were really there.
This robot combines high definition video conferencing technology with robotic mobility allowing remote workers to communicate easily with their colleagues too.
Sofia is a humanoid-like robot that’s capable of holding a conversation. This robot has appeared in several high-profile interviews and appearances – including a spot on the Jimmy Fallon show.
Sofia is also unusual in that she’s been given official citizenship in Saudi Arabia and the United Nations title of “Innovation Champion”.
Sofia is capable of answering a multitude of questions and is learning too. Is she a vision of the future?
ASIMO is a humanoid robot that Honda has been developing for over a decade. It features hand dexterity as well as the ability to run fast, hop, jump, run backward, and climb and descend stairs. ASIMO can also recognise the faces and voices of multiple people speaking and can accurately predict what you’ll do next.
RoBoHon is a smartphone disguised as a robot. The little robot works as a normal phone, with a screen for a belly, but also does more.
The bot can move and talk for call alerts and more. It even has a projector in its face so it can lean forward and project larger images on surfaces. This could be useful for viewing photos, following a recipe or simply as a novel hands-free option.
Pepper is a Japanese humanoid robot that can sense emotion and exhibit its own feelings. After going on sale in Japan, the robot made by Softbank was sold out in just a minute. Pepper costs the equivalent of £1,000 plus a £125 monthly fee.
GOOGLE BOSTON DYNAMICS
LS3 BigDog is a robot “pack mule” that was developed by Boston Dynamics. It’s had it’s first military outing carrying kit across mixed terrain and the marines are impressed.
The LS3 is able to carry 180kg of kit for 20 miles before it runs out of fuel as well as conduct resupply missions.
ALDEBARAN ROBOTICS’ NAO
Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is Japan’s biggest bank, and it employ robots. Aldebaran Robotics’ Nao is a bipedal android that costs around $8,000. You can see one at UFJ’s flagship branch near Tokyo station. Nao speaks Japanese, English, and Chinese and can answer your questions about how to open a bank account and more.
HitchBOT was a robot created by Ontario makers at Ryerson University. They wanted to see how far it would travel, but it was dismantled in Philadelphia.
HitchBOT comprised a camera, battery, motherboard, tablet, GPS, and red eyes. It could also hold basic conversations and throw out tidbits of wisdom while on its travels.
Starship Technologies developed this local delivery robot designed to quickly deliver parcels and post within a two-mile radius.
This wheeled self-driving delivery bot is an interesting alternative delivery drones. Will the future be void of delivery people but a buzz with wheeled and flying delivery bots?
Samsung Bot Care
Samsung used CES 2019 to launch a range of care robots that it hopes to bring out in the near future.
Bot Care, which is one of three robots announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in the US is able to do a number of tasks around the home like remind you when to take your medicine, act as a heart rate monitor, and if the worst happens phone emergency services for help.
Ubtech Robotics’ Walker
First showcased at CES in 2018, and then a newer version at CES 2019, Walker is a biped robot designed to deliver a home butler service and help with day-to-day operations of your home or workplace.
Not only is this robot capable of climbing stairs, but can get you a can of coke, pass you an umbrella if it’s raining and hang up your coat.
When it’s not helping you when you get through the door it can do a number of other tasks out security patrols, help with video calls and conferencing, dance and entertain children and much more besides. Walker is just one of several Ubtech robots in development, all of them aimed at improving our lives.
ElliQ is described as an “active aging companion”.
Based on the product’s concept video on YouTube, it looks like a two-part setup that includes an Android tablet and an Alexa-like digital assistant and software. With this combination, the elderly can easily connect with friends and family. In an interview with VentureBeat, the company behind
ElliQ noted that the robot’s unique design, natural movements, and body language can help enable a “unique bond” between ElliQ and its owner. Watch the video here to see ElliQ in action. You’ll see that it sits on a desk but can swivel around, deliver verbal notifications, respond to messages, set reminders for meds, answer video calls, monitor activities, etc. ElliQ is still in the development stage.
The robot is called Kuratas and looks like something out of Hollywood. It is 3.8 metres tall, weighs 5 tons, and features a BB Gatling gun that can pump out 6,000 rounds per minute. It’s also been in development for several years.
A team of Japanese roboticists created a music-performing band of robots called Z-Machines. It has a guitarist with 78 fingers and a drummer with 22 arms.
Record label Warp Records said last autumn it would release an album performed by the band. Composer Squarepusher also promised to make music with it.
MAX PLANCK INSTITUTE FOR INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS
Athena was the first humanoid robot to have paid for a seat on a plane when it boarded a Lufthansa flight to Germany last Christmas. It was created by PhD student Alexander Herzog and Jeannette Bohg. The all-white robot has a tablet mounted to its chest and can chat with people about their coffee habits and preferences.
Another Boston Dynamics robot that’s seriously impressive. This is a 6-foot humanoid robot that’s able to move like a person. Taken outside for testing in the woods he was able to move freely, looking creepily like a ninja.
Kuri by Mayfield Robotics is a $700 robot companion described as “an intelligent robot for the home”.
This robot features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a 1080p camera, facial recognition, microphones, speakers, touch sensors, a “laser-based sensor array”, sturdy wheels, and speech recognition. Kuri makes beeping noises and can move its head and eyes to communicate.
Leka is a $390 robot for special-needs children. It helps them to better understand social and visual cues. It’s shaped like a ball and face that changes expressions. It also uses sound, light, and colours to interact.
Leka responds with positive images and sounds, such as a smiling face, and it features customizable, multiplayer games based around colour identification, picture matching, hide-and-seek, etc.
Just when you thought Segway couldn’t possibly get any better, the company has updated and enhanced its transportation device with autonomous abilities. Now you can hop off your Segway and have it automatically follow you, capture video and more.
The Loomo, as it’s called, has also been built with a set of playful expressions, AI capabilities and voice, gesture and smartphone controls.
PIAGGIO FAST FORWARD
Carrying your own bags is such a chore. With Gita Bot, worry no more. This compact robot is designed to follow you around while you’re out and about in town or on the way to work.
The bot is capable of carrying the equivalent of a case of wine, a loaded rucksack or two shopping bags, so it’s an ideal companion for a quick trip down to the shops. In the future, you’ll be able to leave the car at home and stretch your legs without the misery of carrying your shopping home.
Kuri is a robot for the home designed with personality, awareness of its surroundings and the power to move about the house freely too. Its designed to fit into your home and become part of the family – entertaining your loved ones, playing music and capturing special moments.
Kuri is capable of reacting to sound, touch and even has a lighting system to let you know what mood it’s in. We can’t decide if this is awesome or creepy.
Cafe X is an automated, robot powered coffee bar built with the power to deliver the very best in speciality coffee via advanced automation.
Now you’ll be able to get your morning coffee without the chore of having to talk to real people, isn’t the future wonderful? Whether Cafe X can outperform professional baristas remains to be seen.
BLUE FROG ROBOTICS
Buddy is a revolutionary companion robot designed to improve your family life. Buddy is designed to entertain the family, help you with your everyday activities, offer reminders when you need them, support you with recipes in the kitchen and much more.
You can use buddy to make video calls, keep an eye on your home while you’re out, connect all your smart home devices together and even help your children learn.
Laundry is such a chore. Washing, drying, putting everything away – so dull. Luckily technology is always improving.
There are plenty of modern smart home products to help ease the misery including smart connected washing machines and dryers. Foldimate goes one better by automatically folding your clothes too. This robotic laundry folding machine could be a real life-changer or at least ease the misery of household chores.
Romeo is a humanoid sized robot that’s designed and built to assist the elderly as they lose their own autonomy.
This robot is designed to be able to open doors, climb stairs and reach for objects while going about its care duties. In the future, this clever bot may enable the elderly to stay in their own homes longer rather than having to move into care homes.
LG Rolling Bot
Another rolling robot – this time a mobile camera that can roll around your home capturing images and videos.
The Rolling Bot can be used as a security monitoring system for the home or a companion for your pets. It’s smartphone compatible and connects to your Wi-Fi for full connectivity and live streaming via your phone while you’re out and about.
Muruta is the world’s first robot cheerleader. It balances on metal balls and can dance and flashing lights in unison. It uses gyroscopic sensors with inverted-pendulum control to stay upright. It also uses ultrasonic microphones and infrared sensors to detect objects around and determine its relative positions.
Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has created a tiny, insect-inspired robot that can stand and jump on water for surveillance missions. The robot isn’t yet equipped with surveillance technology, but it was part of a study that had a goal to explore aquatic mobility in a small-scale robot.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA-BERKELEY
This is a cockroach-inspired robot that took two years to build. Scientists at the University of California-Berkeley wanted to create a tiny robot that could navigate rough terrain and small gaps without the use of sensors, so it invented this bug-like robot and published the results in a Bioinspiration & Biomimetics study.
German company Festo has made a robot kangaroo aptly-titled BionicKangaroo. It has a “tendon” in its leg that propels it forward and harnesses energy on landing. Also, as the legs move forward for landing, the tail is adjusted for balance. When it lands, the legs are spring-loaded by the impact and prepped for another hop.
UBTech’s Lynx Robot leverages Amazon’s voice assistant to answer your questions, but it can also read your emails and has a camera system so it can check on your home while you’re away. It can also recognise faces and change its responses to suit a particular person.
Bosch’s Mykie, short for “my kitchen elf,” can answer questions, like “What’s the weather today?”, and it can control connected Bosch appliances like dishwashers. You’ll mostly use it to search for recipes with voice commands.
Mykie has a control screen, with a set of moving eyes, and a projector so you can project cooking videos onto your kitchen wall.
Ewaybot’s MoRo can move around indoors and outdoors, handle objects ranging from tissues to water bottles, and listen to voice commands. It’s about 4-feet tall and weighs 77 pounds. It also has a flame retardant ABS case and about an 8-hour battery life. Unfortunately, it costs a whopping $30,000.
Japanese car manufacturer Nissan has taken its ProPILOT suite of self-driving technologies and put them into a self-driving robot called Pitch-R, that can be used to draw 5-, 7- or 11-a-side football pitches wherever there is enough space. The robot is in the final stage of development at the moment and Nissan says it’s just the first of a number of prototypes it’s developing.