Robots are getting smarter.
Over the past few years, technology has advanced in countless ways. There are now higher-quality (and cheaper) LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors that can detect movement more precisely, better motors that can replicate human expressions on a skin-like face, and software routines that can parse human speech more effectively. While humankind might not be too happy, the tech is making its way into robots. And many of these are already fully operational.
1. iRobot Scooba 450
Here’s a sure sign that robots are getting smarter. The last Scooba 390 floor-cleaning bot, released in 2012, could mop floors automatically in a bathroom or a laundry room. It held about a quarter-cup of water mixed with a cleaning solution. The new Scooba 450 holds about three cups of fluid and cleans an area about 300-square-feet. Most importantly, the Scooba is three times more powerful. The brushes spin at 600RPMs compared to the 200RPMs of the last model.
Not all bots have arms and legs -- or even a body. The X.ai (pronounced X dot AI) is a hyper-intelligent calendar management robot that makes life easier. Her name is Amy. Once you connect the bot to your online calendar, Amy can “negotiate” with up to five participants and arrange the meeting for you. You can let her know where you normally like to meet, the best time of day, and how long a meeting should last. You just send her the e-mails of the participants.
3. Knightscope K5
There’s something a little disconcerting about the Knightscope K5, and that’s a good thing. As a patrol robot a company or government agency might deploy in a parking lot of a mall, the K5 stands about 5-feet tall and weighs 300 pounds. It can understand gestures, can identify perps, scan license plates (about 300 of them per minute), and even compare real-time events like a bomb scare or a suspect on the loose to local social media chatter.
4. Robokind Milo
Designed to help kids with autism and other special needs, the Robokind Milo can show expressions like happiness, sadness, and fear. Motors inside the face move over a skin-like material. The bot also responds to human participants and can tell, by analyzing facial patterns, if he or she is paying attention or looking away. Milo stands 22-inches tall and can make 22 different movements, including shaking its head or raising an arm in excitement.
5. Zimplistic Rotimatic
One of the biggest trends in robotics is to help solve problems and make life easier. About one billion people in the world eat flatbreads, but they are time-consuming to make and it’s often difficult to get the right thickness and water-to-flour ratio. The Rotimatic uses machine learning to identify the consistency of the floor you use and then adjusts the ratio. It can generate one roti per minute, which is also helpful for feeding large groups of people.
6. Ecovacs Winbot
Sold through Hammacher Schlemmer for $400, the Ecovacs Winbot uses a suction cup and a cleaning pad to make your windows shine. You spray the front pad with a cleaning solution, then set the device onto a window. The Winbot determines the window size and gets to work. A few minutes later, using a middle squeegee and a rear drying pad, the window looks spotless.