In today’s roundup, we look at why and how personal robots have regained their popularity. Check out this blog post for our insights on the trend. We also give you our picks for the robots you can buy for your home now.
Up until last year, companies that produced personal robots were in trouble. Most notably, Rethink Robotics, founded by the respected AI researcher and quasi-celebrity Rodney Brooks, closed its doors forever in October 2018. A few months earlier, Mayfield Robots, developers of the social robot Kuri, also shut down for a few months.
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Even before that, Jibo, the inventors of an intelligent home robot, stopped its operations after it had raised over $70 million. It seemed like personal robots were on a decline, and we wrote a blog post mourning their demise. So let’s take a look at that before we get into our roundup of the top five robots you can buy for your home today.
Robotics is hard
One of the main issues experts cited back then was that robotics is hard. And it is. It’s no simple task turning heaps of programs and metal into something humanoid that can react to its environment and change its behavior the way a human can. The companies struggled with that. And then there was the issue of need. At the time, there was simply no urgency for mass non-human help around the house and in day-to-day life.
The pandemic created a need for more robots
Then 2020 came and with it, the global pandemic. At that point, according to National Geographic, “…replacing people with robots—an idea majorities of people around the world dislike…looks medically wise, if not essential.” Since then, the demand for robot workers of all kinds has skyrocketed. Hospitals and clinics, for example, wanted robots to help respond to initial overload. In the spring of 2020, hospitals in Asia, Europe, and North America used robots for telemedicine and telepresence, where robots connect patients to loved ones.
Personal robots help out in many ways
And for people quarantined or waiting out country-wide lockdowns at home, there was (and still is) a huge demand for robotic help around the house. Because when you’re stuck at home, it’s amazing how quickly the dust accumulates. Rather than vacuum or mop every day, many people are quite happy for extra help in the form of a robot mop or vacuum cleaner.
And more than that, people isolated from their typical social support networks are looking for new ways to connect. Social robots could provide the missing link and bring them into contact with friends and family. Finally, for small children whose education and time with friends have been disrupted by school closings and limits on playdates, parents are more willing than ever to buy an educational robot to fill in the gaps.
With the soaring demand, companies have responded. Samsung’s Bot Handy can sort your dishes and pour you a glass of wine, while the Moflin robot pet can snuggle and bond with you just like a real pet. And then, on the more industrial side, the LG Cloi UV-V germ-fighting bot can sanitize large public spaces quickly and automatically using UV light. Now that there’s a need, the robots are here. And today, we’re presenting you with five of our top five robots you can buy for your home today.
Sony aibo Intelligent Dog Robot Pet
If you’d like some extra companionship around the house, the Sony aibo Intelligent Dog Robot Pet is just what you’re looking for. This dog acts just like man’s best friend and can even greet you at the front door when you say, “I’m home.” You can potty train him, feed him treats, and program custom action. Just like a real puppy, he moves, scratches, and loves performing tricks.
Misty II Personal Robot Platform
The Misty II Personal Robot Platform is another cool personal robot. She’s pretty clever since she can express emotion and recognize your face. As a developer’s robot, you can easily program her to perform the tasks you want. What’s more, she can manage your smart home devices and even act as a personal butler. Who doesn’t want one of those?
Hexbot Versatile Desktop Robot Arm
If you’re a designer or creator, you’ll want to check out the Hexbot Versatile Desktop Robot Arm. This talented robot made our list of the top five robots you can buy for your home because it draws, 3D prints and laser engraves on your existing work desk. Best of all, this robot can also play a game of chess with you. How’s that for smart?
Misa Next Generation Social Family Robot
The Misa Next Generation Social Family Robot is just what you need her to be. From a friend to a teacher, or a mother’s helper to a photographer, Misa can rise to the occasion. Just say, “Hey Misa,” followed by your question and she’ll get you the answer. Misa is well-versed in a variety of topics and more are being added all the time. With four wheels and a range of sensors, this social robot can learn and interact with her environment.
iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum
For that extra hand around the house, go for the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum. This is one of iRobot’s latest models, and you can either command it by voice or via the app. But is this robot vacuum effective? It is. This gadget comes with a high-efficiency filter that captures 99% of pollen, dust mites, mold, and more. And with dual multi-surface rubber brushes, your floor will always be clean and free of dust.
By all accounts, personal robots have made a comeback, and experts believe we’ll quickly see humans and robots working side-by-side with board acceptance. Though skeptics say this is unlikely since “autonomous” robots often need a human to step in when they’re perplexed by a particular challenge. But, since developers have taught Spot, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog, how to jump rope, that might not be an issue for too long. What do you think? Are you ready for robot help? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
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