Segway Robotics’ Indiegogo campaign is taking our dreams of owning a smart, loyal robot companion and meeting them with all the tech that 2018 has to offer.
Loomo – a Segway Mini Plus affixed with AI tech, Intel RealSense sensors for avoiding obstacles, LCD touchscreens for conveying emotions, and an HD camera for recording its surroundings – is available to pre-order now, and will ship in May.
Capable of facial and voice recognition, Loomo can be commanded to follow you outside, at up to 4.3mph (8kph) for up to 22 miles (35 kilometers) per charge. Its camera rests on a gimbal stabilizer and tracks its owner, while its infrared and ultrasonic sensors detect obstacles.
For higher speeds, you can ask Loomo to exit robot mode; its head will turn around, and you can ride it like a normal Segway at speeds up to 11mph (18kph). Then, when you arrive at your destination, just twist its head forward and your robot friend reactivates.
While Loomo runs on Android, both Android and iOS smartphone users will be able to download an app to remotely control their robot over a Wi-Fi network. You’ll be able to see your surroundings and speak to passersby through Loomo’s speakers.
Early bird pricing starts at $1,299 (about £950 / $AU1700). Once your Loomo arrives, it’ll receive constant over-the-air firmware updates, and developers can access the free SDK to implement their own Loomo features, which could include connecting with other smart devices and developing new voice commands and gesture recognition.
Personal robot potential
Loomo is about as pricey as you’d expect for a Segway decked to the nines with cameras, sensors and AI. For comparison, the Segway Mini Plus without any smart add-ons retails for $800 on Amazon (about £600 / $AU1,000).
The primary question is, will folks shell out that kind of cash for Loomo? Unlike most robots we’ve seen, it’s highly mobile in uncertain terrain, can reliably go outdoors and is water resistant (just don’t leave it out in the rain). But Loomo also lacks the utility of other ’bots that focus on indoor chores, and its voice and gesture capabilities remain untested.
In a press release, Segway Robotics claims Loomo has deep learning capabilities, and can recognize human differences like appearance, age and gender.
It should be capable of learning to anticipate your behaviors and improve its understanding of your voice and movements. But we’ll have to get our hands on the robot ourselves to see how well this all works, and how extensive its voice command library turns out to be.