Smart-home technology and innovative cars were overshadowed at CES by tiny robots designed to be human companions. We’ve rounded up eight of the kitschiest offerings at this year’s event. Referred to as the workplace for the newest gadgets and breakthrough technologies, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) takes place at the start of every year, and never fails to impress with its weird and wacky concepts.
This year’s event, which happened from 7-10 January 2020, saw Sony unveil a driverless, electric concept car, packed filled with its best mobility technologies, while Mercedes-Benz revealed an Avatar-inspired vehicle with scales. However, what stood out most of all were the weird robots on show, from a cartoon bear on wheels that delivers toilet rolls to a headless robotic kitten that doubles up as a therapeutic pillow.
Read on for our picks of 5 robots that nobody needs, but everybody wants:
1. MarsCat by Elephant Robotics
Shenzhen-based Elephant Robotics presented its MarsCat at CES 2020 – a robot cat companion designed to imitate the behaviours of a pet cat from sleeping, playing and stretching to kneading and burying litter, despite not producing any waste.
Built on an open-source platform, users can program the MarsCat to perform different actions. It features six changeable characters, including enthusiastic, lazy, social or shy.
2. Petit Qoobo by Yukai Engineering
Tokyo-based robotics startup Yukai Engineering also joined in with the pet trend this year with its Petit Qoobe – a headless robotic kitten that doubles up as a tail-wagging therapeutic pillow.
The robot is meant for people that want to have a pet but can’t thanks to allergies, their profession or living situation. A more compact version of the brand’s Qoobo robot, the Petit Qoobo spontaneously moves its tail and vibrates in reaction to its surroundings.
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3. Lovot by Groove X
Another tech alternative to a living pet is that the Lovot by Japanese company Groove X. Taking its name from a mixture of the words “love” and “robot”, the huggable device is meant to “to enhance levels of comfort and feelings of love”.
Not only does Lovot feature big eyes, a button nose and two flipper-like arms that move when it wants to bop or be picked up, but it also has ten or more CPU cores, 20 or more MCUs, and 50 or more sensors to imitate the behaviour of a living being.
4. BellaBot by PuduTech
Shenzhen-based tech company PuduTech aimed to supply an answer to understaffed restaurants at this year’s CES with an autonomous food-delivery robot, BellaBot.
With the top of a cat and a body comprised of shelves carrying food trays, the BellaBot cat waiter is capable of delivering up to 10 kilograms of restaurant orders to waiting customers, avoiding any obstacles employing a combination of cameras and sensors.
It meows because it arrives to encourage customers to gather their order. They will then give the robot a scratch behind the ears or a pat on the top because the robot purrs in enjoyment. However, if people pay it attention for too long, it gets angry at them for distracting it.
5. Rollbot by Charmin
This cartoon bear on wheels is meant to deliver a fresh roll to those that are stuck on the restroom and out of paper.
Developed by Procter & Gamble and Charmin’s Golab, the RollBot are often controlled by the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth to move fresh toilet tissue to the toilet on top of its head.