Roundup: Robots At CES 2015

The 2015 edition of tech conference CES was the occasion for the unveiling of a series of domestic robots.

The functions of the robots are very varied, ranging from carrying out chores in the home to participating in games of beer pong. You may be disappointed if you are expecting a robot butler who looks and sounds like C-3PO; most of these robots carry out specific individual functions.

Robots At CES 2015: Assistance in the home

However the Furo-i Home, developed by South Korea company Futurebot, is one of the more versatile robots, and is capable of looking after children or elderly relatives.The robot can be used as a teaching aid, or be programmed to remind an older family member to follow a schedule, as well as sending out an email to other relatives if something unusual happens.

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The Furo-i Home is set to cost around $1,000, but Ukrainian start-up Branto has announced a very similar multi-function robot which will sell for $399.

The vast majority of the other robots on show are made to carry out specific tasks, and Casey Nobile of news site Robotics Trends believes that this will continue to be the case.

“You’re going to see advances in robots controlling other smart home tech via software before you see something like a machine with an arm that makes you coffee and delivers it to your bedroom, just because of the limitations with manipulation technology and the issues with battery life.”

Doing specific tasks well

Droplet is a robot specifically designed to water different plants with different amounts of water depending on their species and the weather forecast, using information it receives via an internet connection.

Another garden-dwelling droid is the Grillbot, designed to clean your barbecue after a party. It’s not easy to build a functioning robot even for such a specific task: “It took over two years to come up with the algorithm to get it to run over every grill surface,” said Grillbot’s chief executive Ethan Wood.

Other bots include Budgee, which helps elderly owners carry heavy items around their house, and Atomobot, which purifies the air of airborne dust and odors. Another important trend is the development of educational robots which teach children how to write code.

It would appear that the industry will continue to concentrate on robots with specific functions for the foreseeable future, due to costs and the dangers of making a robot which is a jack of all trades, but a master of none.