Pet Robots: Cozmo and Roomba
Anki (US) and iRobot (US)
Cozmo is a new adaptive robot pet with a personality. Its behaviour changes over time, based on interactions it has as well as the environments in which it finds itself. For example, it will detect ledges and other obstacles, and will recognize the face of its owner. It also exhibits persistence, curiosity, and playfulness, both in how it moves and its expressive beeps, whirs, and the shape of its digital eyes. Like an animated cartoon, Cozmo can make simple, exaggerated expressions that lend it familiarity. Its creators describe the project as a way to bring artificial intelligence from the lab into your home. Accompanying the product, which just launched in the autumn of 2016, is a SDK, or open development kit, so that new features or behaviours can be created for Cozmo.
Roomba is the world’s first widely adopted robot for the home. More than ten million units of the different models of the automated vacuum have been sold worldwide. As of 2016, there are seven generations of Roomba models, all of which are disc-shaped, 34cm in diameter and less than 9cm in height. They rotate, detect barriers and obstacles like steep stairs, and contain different mechanisms for picking up rubbish from floors.
The newest model is wifi-enabled and includes sensors to identify and navigate different kinds of surface features. Roombas can be adapted to other, more creative tasks, using the Roomba Open Interface. In the words of an enthusiast who makes a hobby of customising the humble cleaning robots, it is “hackable by design.”
Anki is a robotics and artificial intelligence startup launched in 2010. It has won widespread attention and generous funding by venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. The company was founded by Boris Sofman, Mark Palatucci, and Hanns Tappeiner, who met in the robotics PhD programme at Carnegie Mellon University.
iRobot is a technology company founded in 1990. It is a leading provider of robots for home as well as military use. It was founded by Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner, who worked together in MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Lab. Early products featured applications like reconnaissance and de-mining, and evolved into more sophisticated robots for services like battlefield casualty extraction. The home products include robots for vacuuming, mopping, pool-cleaning, and, coming soon, a lawn mower. iRobot has annual revenues of more than $600M.anki.com irobot.com