The Latest in Robotic Technology

I’ve been reading about this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), January 11-14. As with everything else these days, this edition was virtual, on-line only, but some interesting products were still showcased. It seems the trend toward robotics is continuing.

I suppose it’s our lazy side that stimulates our fascination with robots. It’s nice to dream about a personal servant who maintains a household with a minimum of upkeep. Robotic vacuum cleaners are a step in that direction, and I have fond memories of seeing Honda’s ASIMO being demonstrated at Disneyland (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASIMO). So what is the next step?

Qoobo as shown on the website

It could be Qoobo, shown at this year’s CES. If you’re tired of picking up after your dog or emptying your cat’s litterbox, this might be the breakthrough for you. According to the website (https://qoobo.info/index-en/?), Qoobo is “a tailed cushion that heals your heart.”

That’s right, it’s basically a tricked-out pillow. As the description continues — “Qoobo is a therapeutic robot in the form of a cushion with a tail. When caressed, it waves gently. When rubbed, it swings playfully. And, it occasionally wags just to say hello. It’s comforting communication that warms your heart the way animals do. Begin your “tail therapy” today and wrap yourself with fuzzy love.”

Unfortunately, Qoobo is unable to understand what you say. And like any pet, don’t stand on its tail. On the other hand, its battery can be recharged and it comes in three colors!

If you’re still interested, how can you purchase one? The website wasn’t very helpful; no mail order was mentioned, nor were there any outlets listed for the U.S. But I found a Qoobo on Amazon, described more directly as a “Robot Pillow with a Tail” for $235.11 plus $52.90 shipping (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H9BJWZN?).

Personally, I find that pretty expensive for a pet that can’t even lick your face, although I haven’t been in a pet store in a long time.

So I suspect the better news from the CES is Samsung’s offering of three more-utilitarian robots: ¬†JetBot 90 AI+, a vacuum cleaner with LiDAR and 3D sensors so it doesn’t hit the furniture; the Bot Care robotic companion; and the Bot Handy, which can do everything from picking up dirty clothes and loading the dishwasher to pouring a glass of wine (https://www.foodandwine.com/news/samsung-wine-pouring-robot-bot-handy?). According to Sebastian Seung, President and Head of Samsung Research, “Bot Handy can move around and do things like set the table or put away groceries. It flips the script on what a robot in your home could look like.” Although the demonstration video looks very promising, Bot Handy only exists now as a prototype. But when it debuts, I predict it will be a lot more popular than a robot pillow.

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