When I got off the plane I immediately went hunting for robots at CES, and though I came up short when looking for terminator-machines the adorable home robots were almost as good.
The cast of robotic pals didn’t exactly exude the menace of cold steel and soullessness, unless you believe in the notion of “killing with kindness”. All of them had similar bubbly exteriors and usually named something cute with four letters, like Jibo, Aibo, Kuri and CLOi to help you around the house instead of the mechanical invaders we’re all been warned about.
It’s almost unanimous that if you want the general public to love robots you should make it look like a pet. Sony pretty much won CES with their newest Aibo, an irresistibly sweet take on the futuristic family dog that seemingly does everything affectionate that a normal dog would except poop on your carpet.
This is good because you can actually play and love the Aibo without having to deal with any of the dirty upkeep, and could be a reasonable substitute for people who spend little time at home or live in a pet-free apartment. I can vividly imagine urbanites opening up their checkbooks for one of these but it ain’t cheap—more like $1699—and it’s exclusive to Japanese consumers for the time being. However, since Sony went to the trouble of presenting it at CES 2018 to the sounds of ‘Oohs” and “Aahhs”, chances are good it will eventually come to international buyers.LG had the second most-prominent showcase with the CLOi making waves all its own, and we’re not surprised considering the fact that they already make commercial robots for their home market in South Korea. With Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant working right out of the box you can ask CLOi do to operate existing LG smart appliances, and is able to recognize authorized individuals or family members. At the moment, the CLOi is just a concept but LG was just as quick to point out that the option to release it later this year (Q3/Q4) is on the table, Until there’s enough consumer demand, there is no release date or estimated pricing to speak of.
Other entries such as the stationary Dyson-looking Jibo ($899), anime-like Kuri ($700), and French-made Buddy ($1499) are similar by offering a level of convenience, security, and companionship to varying degrees. They are all meant to make our lives easier and replace your current Amazon Echo with voice recognition to even helping out in the kitchen by supplying recipes from the internet. It all sounds promising but for many people it might come down to the cuteness factor alone.