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This robot butler is an Intel-Segway lovechild … and we totally want one

If the authorities and the U.S. Postal Service have their way, the hoverboard might be a thing of the past. Thankfully, faulty batteries and the occasional explosion don’t seem to bother Segway or Intel, considering the two companies premiered a robotic assistant during Intel’s forward-thinking keynote address at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

Intel showcased the extendable, ridable robot — dubbed the Segway Robot, for now — alongside forthcoming consumer drones and a chipset built specifically for wearables, among other things. It rolled onto the stage with an adorable expression that could rival that of a newborn infant, capitalizing on Intel’s RealSense RGB-D camera, which imbues the self-balancing device with a greater sense of spatial depth when tracking and mapping. Intel’s Atom processor makes it all possible, as does the hardware’s GPU acceleration and embedded vision algorithms.

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Intel wasn’t alone in the effort, though. The robot represents a partnership between the behemoth tech giant and Xiaomi, the recent acquirer of Segway and the manufacturer of the Ninebot. The collaboration involves a wealth of technology — including voice capabilities, a livestreaming camera, and facial-recognition — which in combination allowed the robot to navigate around Intel’s mock living room and communicate with its inventor like something out of the waste-covered world of WALL-E.

Segway supposedly has plans to make the Segway Robot commercially available sometime next year, but a developer kit is slated to launch in the second half of 2016 at an undisclosed price. The kit will give developers access to its open-source SDK, allowing them to develop new applications for the robot before it’s readily available. Unfortunately, we doubt very many developers will be able to tackle the challenges that accompany a pair of arms that tout the mobility of a Lego figurine. I guess the future will have to wait.

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