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‘Vector' is a Little Robot for Your Home Who Wants You to Like Him

San Francisco startup Anki built the tiny animatronic character to combine the traits of a virtual assistant with those of a lovable pet

What to Know

  • Vector is smart robot who's always on, and goes back to his charger to "sleep"
  • The Matchbox car-sized robot uses AI to have natural conversations and find his way around
  • The robot is for sale on Kickstarter for $200 and is set to ship in October

There are robots for all sorts of tasks, and virtual assistants to answer all sorts of questions.

Now, San Francisco startup Anki is aiming to combine those two technological marvels in one device: a lovable little robot called Vector.

In fact, being lovable is Vector's most important job. After building toy race cars and a toy robot called Cozmo, Anki is hoping to attract a grown-up audience that might want to know the score from last night's Giants game, or the distance from San Francisco to LA — and for that to work, Vector has to feel natural to talk to, said Anki co-founder Mark Palatucci.

As tech companies chase after the Jetsons-era fantasy of helper robots around the house, Palatucci said Vector is an important step toward perfecting human-robot interaction — and toward developing the brains those robots will have inside them. Unlike Anki's previous products, which relied on a smartphone to control them, Vector is completely autonomous. He "sleeps" in his charging cradle, and comes out to roam around and explore his environment. He can avoid obstacles, recognize people he knows, and stop (with a fright!) before falling off a table.

Vector is for sale for $200 on Kickstarter, and slated to ship in October. Watch the video above to see Vector in action — and hear Silicon Valley forecaster Paul Saffo's take on where robots like Vector are headed!

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