Anki’s new home robot is like Alexa with wheels, eyes, and a personality

Sure, home robots such as the Roomba vacuum cleaner are pretty useful, but it’s still a long way from the characterful, interactive droids we were promised by a misspent youth watching Star Wars and Short Circuit. Fortunately, those dark, lonely days without the company of a droid buddy are about to be over — and we’ve got the Kickstarter campaign to prove it.

Called Vector, it’s a diminutive always-on, fully autonomous, cloud-connected home robot bursting with personality. Capable of performing around 1,000 different animations, Vector can react to his environment in a way that’s disarmingly lifelike. That includes recognizing individual people courtesy of an in-built HD camera or responding to their touch via a capacitive touch sensor in his back. Oh, and did we mention that you can use Vector as a moving Google Home, Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod-style smart speaker by asking him questions with the prefix, “Hey Vector”?

“For over five years, [manufacturer] Anki has brought together a team of experts across various fields to create the world’s first affordable, character-rich robot capable of surprising and delighting humans,” Boris Sofman, CEO and co-founder at Anki, said in a statement. “Vector is the culmination of everything we’ve learned in this journey so far, and a bold next step in our vision for entertaining and purposeful robots in every home, everywhere. Today marks the starting point in an overall expansion for our robotics platform and how we combine the latest technologies in robotics and artificial intelligence with our novel approach to character and interface.”

As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the potential perils of crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you’re aware of these and still want to go ahead and jump on the Vector bandwagon, you can do by heading to Anki’s Kickstarter campaign page.

A Vector robot will set you back $250 and ships with one base charger and early access to the Vector software development kit (SDK) alpha. Shipping is set to take place in October, just a few months away. That way your new robot BFF will have a few weeks to settle in before meeting the friends and family on Thanksgiving!

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