Rise of the machines: Here are the best robots we saw at CES 2018

Robots always have a big presence at CES, but this year that presence was bigger and more noticeable than ever before. The CEA dedicated a massive chunk of showfloor space at the Las Vegas Convention Center exclusively to robotics companies this year, and as such, there were tons of amazing bots on display. Here’s a quick roundup of some of our favorites. Enjoy!

Laundroid

This one is something we can all get behind. It’s a robot that folds your clothes for you. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, despite being relatively simple for us humans, folding laundry is actually an immensely difficult task for robots. To manage this feat, Laundroid uses advanced AI and an array of cameras to analyze each individual garment, determine its shape/size/orientation, and then figure out how to fold it properly. It’s not particularly quick, but it’s impressive nonetheless. Unfortunately, it also costs $16,000.

Motobot 2

When the Motobot project was first announced in 2015, Yamaha’s goal was to create a machine that would be capable of “visualizing data about human motorcycle operation, further quantifying the relationship between rider input and machine behavior, and then using the resulting know-how to build even better vehicles.” Now that we’re in 2018, Yamaha has not only achieved that goal, but also created a second generation of the bot. This time, the Motobot’s goal is to defeat seven-time MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi in a timed lap around a track. That’s a pretty epic matchup if you ask us.

Root

Robots that teach you how to code are a dime a dozen these days. Most are just a slightly different take on the same exact idea, but Root is special. Of all the coding robots we have ever seen, it’s arguably one of the best. Why? Well, in addition to being outrageously simple and intuitive to use, it is also designed to teach you more than just the basics. It’s a full-spectrum, interactive coding teacher that can take you from beginner (or intermediate) to seasoned pro — all at your own pace.

Scrabble bot

Chessbots are so 1996. Here in 2018, we have robots that can play Scrabble — and when we say “play,” we don’t mean move digital pieces inside a computer simulation. I mean actually picking up letter tiles (or in this case, blocks) with robotic arms, and placing them on a physical board. The robotic movement is really the easiest part though. The hard part is analyzing all the letters on the board, running through all possible letter combinations, guessing which pieces the opponent likely has, and playing a word that not only earns a high point value — but also sets up future moves.

Loomo

Loomo is the latest contraption from Ninebot — the company that acquired Segway in 2015. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a robotics company that owns Segway, because, well, it’s basically just a robot brain that rides around on two self-balancing wheels like some sort of dystopian mall cop. It’s actually kind of nifty, though. You can spin the robot’s head and ride it around like a normal Segway, then hop off, spin the head back around to wake up the robot, and have it follow you around autonomously while you’re not riding. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t want one.

Forpheus

If you followed DT’s CES 2018 coverage at all, you’ve probably seen this one before. The robot, which was created by an industrial automation company called Omron, is designed to showcase the company’s robotics and artificial intelligence technology by playing ping pong. Here’s how it works: After you serve the ball, the robot uses cameras and machine vision algorithms to track the ball and predict its trajectory. The robot then uses its robotic arms to swing the paddle and hit the ball back to you. This all happens in real time, and it’s nothing short of amazing. We actually got a chance to play against it for a few minutes, so if you’d like to read more about an epic man-vs-machine ping pong battle, you know where to go.

ARMAR-6

ARMAR-6 is a humanoid warehouse robot designed by the UK’s online supermarket Ocado. Unlike most robots, it doesn’t have a super specific set of skills, and is instead designed to be a multi-purpose assistant for human workers. “The ultimate goal is for the robot to use machine learning and computer vision to scan its surrounding environment and identify tasks it could help with,” an Ocado executive told Digital Trends. “So, for example, if it observes a technician attempting to change a panel and requiring a set of tools, it will come and offer its assistance — either by holding the panel for the engineer or grabbing the various tools that are needed.”  Future iterations of the bo will also be equipped with Alexa-style speech recognition systems, allowing conversations between the robot and the humans it works with.

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