In Brief

A scuttle in the direction of C-3PO

Anki Vector
 

Androids from the likes of The Jetsons and Star Wars have given us ridiculously high expectations when it comes to automated assistants, says Ryan Jones in Stuff. But while Anki’s latest gadget, the Vector, isn’t exactly C-3PO, it’s a scuttle in the right direction. Anki has taken Cozmo, its previous robotic plaything, and supercharged it into an autonomous home assistant, says Matt Simon in Wired. It’s charming, it’s relatively smart, and it’s mobile – the product of a recent convergence of technologies in robotics.

It’s designed to be put on a counter or desk, and will explore its environment with lasers and a camera, figuring out its surroundings so as not to bump into anything or fall off the side. You can ask it questions, such as what the weather forecast is, set timers and play games with it via its screen or accessory cube (pictured).And when you step into a room, it’ll perk up.

Considering Pixar animators helped to design Vector, it’s fitting that it looks like a real-life Wall-E, says Amelia Heathman in the Evening Standard. In what is either a clever or slightly creepy design feature, the robot “really enjoys it” when you stroke its back, thanks to the built-in touch sensor. It is also ready to laugh when you lose at a game of blackjack, and displays a thinking face when it’s trying to source the answer to a question.

Still, Vector has limits. Right now, you can’t chain commands like you can with Alexa, asking questions that relate to your last query, says Jeremy White on Wired UK. Nor can it recognise different users by voice, only by sight. But Vector is only “a statement of intent for Anki. It is the first step from the company into the world of a far larger, far more sophisticated home robot.”

Available to order on Anki.com for  30 days at a pre-order price of £199.99; on general release on 12 October.

This article was originally published in MoneyWeek

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