The day is soon coming when a child character in a bad family movie says “Mooooomm, can we keep him?” and holds up a robot, not a dog. Antbo, a small customizable toy robot, brings us one step closer to that day.
It comes in a box in several pieces, which take about an hour to assemble, like a high-tech lego kit. It’s programmed to respond to voice commands and a host of controls on the accompanying smartphone or tablet app, as well. Like Root, Harvard’s whiteboard-drawing robot, AntBo can be programmed and tweaked by advanced users with Arduino IDE, Scratch, or the company’s in-house app WhenDo. Users can kit it out with different sensors that record data of its activities, responses to stimuli, and other conditions. It uploads that data to the cloud, linking it to the everpresent internet of things that’s creeping into every aspect of our lives.
Antbo’s not that smart, compared to other A.I.s, but it does have the capability to learn. When you consider the impressive capabilities of modern A.I.s, it could be fascinating to think where robotic pets like Antbo could be in ten years. Right now, it’s more of a novelty than an actual A.I. (the video shows Antbo remembering how to avoid an obstacle in a maze over a period of time), but for $59, it’s still impressive that you can put that much processing power into a kitten-sized robot.
You can preorder an Antbo now through the company’s IndieGoGo page, and check out the product video below.