By 2018, the International Robotics Foundation predicts that 35 million service robots will be sold. And by 2020, $83 billion will be spent on these robots, according to a report by Intel. So who makes them? What can they do? And when will they be ready? For an insider's report, here's TechRepublic overview of the robots of the future, according to demos from CES 2017 in Las Vegas—and to see what they look like, check out our photo gallery.
This intelligent, highly-animated home robot comes from Mayfield Robotics. Designed by a former Pixar animator, this 20-inch tall, 14-pound robot has expressive eyes, which have a built-in HD camera that can capture photos and videos, recognize faces, and monitor your home. Kuri also has bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing remote operation, and a high-tech microphone that can let Kuri communicate with members of the household. He also has sensors for detecting objects. He is battery operated, and comes with a charging station. Kuri can be preordered for $100. Cost: $699.
Developed Emotech Inc., a UK startup composed of neuroscientist and machine learning experts, Olly plays music, controls other internet-enabled devices, and gives advice. But even more impressive is this tabletop robot's adaptability—he can recognize different members of the household and adjust his interactions accordingly. Olly will be available later in 2017.
According to Alison DeNisco at TechRepublic, LG's Hub robot is "essentially a digital assistant with a face." Powered with voice-recognition tech from Amazon's Alexa, it is similar to the Amazon Echo, in that it answers questions, turns on music, and checks the weather. But the Hub has the extra capability of connecting to home IoT appliances, like washing machines and vacuum cleaners, and recognizing individual faces for personalized greetings. Hub Robot will be available sometime in 2017, with no reported price tag.
4. Robo Mower
LG also unveiled another robot at CES—and this one is made for outdoor work. The battery-charged Robo Mower, which has the look of a robo-vacuum, is equipped with sensors that it uses to navigate the back yard.
Need help navigating the airport? LG's Airbot serves as a guide robot, and will be seen in South Korea's Incheon airport later in 2017.
This weeding robot is waterproof, made to live outdoors in your garden, and can take out weeds without the use of pesticides. It's solar-powered—no docking station required—and is made by Franklin Robotics, some of the original founders of the Roomba. Tertill is still in development and will launch a crowdfunding campaign in the summer of 2017, for $250-$300.
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These "lego" robots, made by the South Korean company LUXROBO, arrive as a kit of cubes for the easy, DIY assembly of bots—which can function as motors, lights, infrared detectors, and more.
EvoVac's robot has many functions: It can be a vacuum cleaner, mobile home security camera, and even an air purifier/humidifier. More information will be available on May 20, 2017.
Aristotle is a child-friendly bot made by Nabi, a division of Mattel, with an Alexa-enabled speaker as a built-in assistant. It can play bedtime lullabies, as well as respond to kids' questions—which are usually quite different from the ones adults ask. Due in June 2017. Expected cost: $300.
This is a tiny robot, at under 4 feet tall and weighing nearly 80 pounds—but at $30,000 a unit, it does not carry a small price tag. MoRo can lift objects and deliver them to you—including the refrigerator, for example—after you give it the instruction to do so. The arms can carry heavy objects weighing more than 5KG, or 11 pounds. MoRo, created by Ewaybot, has up to eight hours of battery life. It's expected to be released in the first half of 2017.
Now available in China, Qihan's Sanbot service robot has what it calls a "tri-polar system architecture, comprising the robot, private cloud and the Q-Link mobile application." The bot is currently used across industries ranging from retail to education to healthcare, and costs in the neighborhood of $6,000.
- LG to develop deep learning robot guides for Incheon Airport (ZDNet)
- The next big job in tech: Robot programmer (TechRepublic)
- 6 ways the robot revolution will transform the future of work (TechRepublic)
- Why China is scooping up robots from Rethink Robotics to solve its manufacturing problem (TechRepublic)
- CES 2017: Ford's DriverScore app tracks driving data to reward good drivers with low insurance rates (TechRepublic)
- LG Electronics makes home appliance boss CEO (ZDNet)
- CES 2017: Comcast announces push into smart home market with new cloud services and advanced router (TechRepublic)
- CES 2017: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835: A Swiss Army Knife of mobile processors and built for VR (TechRepublic)
- The robots of CES 2017 (CNET)
Hope Reese has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Hope Reese is a journalist in Louisville, KY. Her writing has been featured in The Atlantic, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, Playboy, Undark Magazine, VICE, Vox, and other publications.