LG made quite an impression with a range of robots at last year's CES, and it's not stopping there. Following the trial runs of its Airport Guide Robot and the Airport Cleaning Robot at Incheon International Airport, the Korean company is now expanding its family of robots -- now branded under "CLOi" -- with three new models geared towards commercial use: Serving Robot, Porter Robot and Shopping Cart Robot. These machines appear to be about the same size as the Airport Guide Robot, and you'll find a familiar pair of jade-colored eyes on a circular plate at the top.
The public narrative around home robotics is largely split between social and functional robots, which differ in the types of services offered and their potential impact on jobs and roles traditionally filled by humans. Functional robots (seen below left) are built to handle specific tasks--cleaning, cooking, gardening, and security, to name a few--and could drastically affect the domestic labor market. Coverage jumped in January 2018, when LG showcased three new concept robots: Serving Robot, Porter Robot, and Shopping Cart Robot at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018. Quid also found articles that mentioned a robot that can climb walls to clean and sort tupperware, one that can show your home to potential renters, and a home monitor that tells you if your kids walk the dog. Social robots (below right) aim to meet your emotional needs and are developed to provide companionship, care, or instruction.
A fire-breathing Dragon, which looks similar to a creature from Harry Potter's movie. The Alpha1S robots are 16 inches high, weighs just 1.63kgs, looks pretty much exactly what science fiction told us. It is developed at the National Institute of Technology, Nara College in Chiba, Japan. They are leading manufacturers of the various type of industrial robots. Spyce Robot delivers salads and grain bowls in three minutes or less.
Now roboticists say they want to try a similar approach with video to teach their charges how to interact with the environment. Sudeep Dasari at the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues are creating a database called RoboNet, consisting of annotated video data of robots in action. For example, the data might include numerous instances of a robot moving a cup across a table. The idea is that anybody can download this data and use it train a robot's neural network to move a cup too, even if it has never interacted with a cup before.
Yesterday, Bloomberg broke a story that Amazon's Lab126 research and development group in San Francisco has been working on some kind of mobile home robot. It's not a huge surprise to see Amazon throwing its R&D budget at more robots, and a home robot is a perfectly logical thing for them to take a crack at. The question is, what kind of robot is Amazon building, and what will it be able to do? While we're obviously hoping for an affordable, useful robot, it won't be easy, and Amazon will have a lot of work to do to make something successful. We should point out up front that at this point the amount of tangible information here is quite limited.