CES robot roundup: These are the droids you’re looking for

retro-robot-toyThe heart of CES is consumer technology–the odds and ends that are sure to hit your homes and wishlists within the next year. The show floor is full of every predictable type of user electronic, from cameras and laptops, to refrigerators and cars. While it’s all new and some of it edges on conceptual, it’s based in reality.

But there’s one department that doesn’t have its feet as firmly on the ground, and that’s robotics. We took a stroll and rounded up some of our favorites from this year’s show.


KarotzThe Internet can be a solitary place, which is why developers from Violet created the Karotz Smart Rabbit. No, this robot won’t do your chores or plan world domination—but it will keep you company while you waste all your time on Facebook. Karotz hooks up with social sites, giving you animated notifications when someone interacts with you there. It will even read messages out loud, giving you a glimpse of what real life communication is like. The robot also features complementary iOS and Android apps so you can control music and apps from the rabbit, and for $130 Karotz can be yours. 



mrobotJustin Bieber nearly overshadowed all of CES just to announce this new dancing robot. From Vietnamese company TOSY comes mRobo Ultra Bass, a Bieber-resembling robot that doubles as a speaker. It’s one of the most human-looking devices we’ve seen come out of the robotics hall at CES, but it’s aesthetics and Bieber-connection easily outweigh its actually specifications: the 18-inch, 3.3-pound mRobo has a mere 2GB of internal memory (it has a USB port to transfer your music). You can stream music via Bluetooth, and of course the major selling point is mRobo’s dancing abilities. It will cost $200 when it hits shelves this fall.



s92 lwThis industrial robot puts the former two to shame. The Topy Survey Running Unmanned Ground Vehicle (or S92-LW, whichever you prefer), has been designed with the purpose of finding survivors in the case of national or nuclear disasters. The 88-pound S92-LW can determine radiation levels, navigate tough terrain, and even climb stairs (and we’re sure a whole lot else) at a 45-degree angle. The robot is operated from a safe distance, via computer controls and a video camera to help navigation.



paperoPaPeRo is in the same vein as Karotz: it’s mostly going to appeal to kids. It also isn’t a terribly new product, although NEC has updated it with an Android app that integrates with the bot so you can remotely control it from a tablet. Sorry—PaPeRo is not for sale, for the moment it’s strictly conceptual.


Orbotix Sphero

spheroThis particular robot is more of an app accessory than a robot, but because it lights up and you can control it, we’re going to go ahead and throw it in. Sphero is a handheld ball that works by integrating with your smartphone or tablet—and the ball will more or less act out your movements. It will roll in the direction you swipe, and you can use it to manipulate your device as well. For gesture based games, you can defer to Sphero instead of your screen.



djroombaParks and Rec fans out there will immediately ask why DJ Roomba has made an appearance in our round-up. Well despite his dreary end on the show, the idea has moved onward and upward in the form of Xybot from Xybotyx. It’s a wheeled, circular stand for your iOS device that implements two high-res cameras, accelerometers, gyroscopes, compasses, proximity sensors, precision motor encoders, GPS, and Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cell connectivity to allow your iPhone robot to explore to its heart’s (gear’s?) desire, physical limitations be damned. It goes on sale in February for $111.11.