2. SOUNDBITE (English) Boris Sofman, Anki Inc. Co-Founder and CEO
"You cannot sell a robot for a hundred or a thousand dollars that has capabilities less than an Alexa. That on its own sets expectations so high that if you don't hit them in any way customers are not going to be forgiving."
3. Hand petting Vector home robot
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Boris Sofman, Anki Inc. Co-Founder and CEO
"So Vector is always on. He may go to sleep. He will go back to his charger. He'll relax. He will just sit idle for a good chunks of the day. But when he hears somebody coming by or a door opening or somebody stepping into view, especially if he recognizes him, he'll get excited and engage. And so in a lot of ways our compass for this was the interactions that people have with their dogs or cats, or even toddlers where there's a level of lifelike behavior that becomes possible only today with the types of computation sensors and algorithms that have become available. And for us this is building on five, six years of development from Cozmo and before that where the warnings that we've received from those products are what allow us to bring a character like this to life."
5. Vector dealing a hand of blackjack
6. Various of Vector navigating table space
7. Vector upset at losing at Blackjack
Menlo Park, California - August 6, 2018
8. SOUNDBITE (English) Bilal Zuberi, Lux Capital
"Automation and robotics is probably one of the most exciting investment areas right now. You're seeing people invest not only in fundamental hardware technologies, fundamental software technologies and I said machine learning AI (artificial intelligence) technologies but you're also seeing people invest in specific applications. There are robots being developed for elderly care. There are robots that are being developed for child training and teaching. They have robots that are being developed for entertainment at home or cleaning. And I think, you know, I could argue that right now this is one of the areas that is unspoken of in mainstream media but probably getting billions of dollars of investments practically every year."
Boston - 21 November 2017
9. Cynthia Breazeal, founder and chief scientist at Boston-based Jibo Inc. interacting with Jibo the robot.
Menlo Park, California - August 6, 2018
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Bilal Zuberi, Lux Capital
"So I think there's a revolution going on in the field of robots and I think it's triggered by the combination of three things, One is advance sensors. The second is instant connectivity, being online all the time these connected sensors can be connected to the to the web and the third is advanced data analytics capabilities."
Personal home robots that can socialize with people could one day roll out of the laboratory and colonize our living rooms and kitchens.
But are humans ready to buy a robot companion, especially one that can't clean the dishes or tidy a shelf?
Early pioneers in a new vanguard of cute, sociable robots have become early casualties as a result of their hefty price tags and limited abilities.
But makers of Vector, another home robot that was unveiled Wednesday, hope theirs will be a bigger hit.
Still others, including a rumored Amazon project and robots designed for elders, remain in the development phase.
It has taken decades of research to build machines even a fraction as sophisticated as the general-purpose robots dreamed up in popular science fiction. They're still nowhere close to matching the language, social skills and physical dexterity of people.
But that hasn't stopped ambitious robot-makers from launching life-like robots into the market, with mixed results.
Back when Jibo graced the cover of Time Magazine's "best inventions" edition late last year, its creator, Cynthia Breazeal, told The Associated Press that "there's going to be a time when everybody will just take the personal robot for granted."
Jibo sits squat on a countertop, delivers jokes or the weather report, swivels its round screen face to meet your gaze and shimmies if you ask it to dance.
It was pitched as "the world's first social robot for the home." But with its $899 price tag, its robotic skills weren't enough to set it apart from simpler and cheaper speakers made by Amazon, Apple and Google.
The robot is still for sale online, but Boston-based Jibo Inc. laid off much of its workforce in June, according to website BostonInno.
Those early pitfalls haven't dissuaded other robot-makers, including San Francisco-based Anki Inc., which plans to deliver the pet-like Vector ($249) to buyers this fall.
"You cannot sell a robot for $800 or $1,000 that has capabilities of less than an Alexa," said Boris Sofman, Anki's co-founder and CEO.
Promising a robotic future beyond Anki is pitching Vector as an older brother to its feisty wheeled toy robot Cozmo _ of which 1.5 million have been sold since its 2016 debut.
Indeed, they look similar and both chirp more than talk, but Vector will have more grown-up capabilities. It can answer basic questions, set a timer or be a conduit to deliver messages.
It can rest on a tabletop until it hears a door open or, using facial recognition, "sees" a familiar person in view. It responds to petting by purring when you rub its gold-plated back.
Many investors believe companion robots have great promise if robot-makers can find the right balance of sociability and usefulness, nor so cute it gets annoying after a while.
Jibo is descended from an interactive humanoid head named Kismet that Breazeal built in an MIT lab in the 1990s, back when human-robot interaction was still on the fringes and most roboticists were focused on getting their machines to move more nimbly.
Since then, advances in artificial intelligence have propelled the robotics field forward. The smartphone industry has also driven down the cost of the parts that robots need. And the popularity of voice-assisted speakers has helped take the strangeness out of talking machines.
As roboticists keep tinkering, they've also branched out into the social sciences and arts to tackle another challenge: figuring out what people actually want in a robot. One key trait: being useful. Another is a personality.
Anki hired animators from Pixar and DreamWorks to give character to Cozmo and Vector.
Many researchers say there's great promise in social robots, which could remind elders to take medicine, prompt them to be more physically or socially active and be a communication assistant keeping them in better touch with extended family and friends.