Lovot Robot
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Bizarre Tech: LOVOT robot, Breadbot and Walkcar

Image credit: Getty Images

Did you feel the love this Valentine’s Day? If not, cuddle a puppy-esque robot, eat your emotions with vending-machine bread, or run away on a moving rectangle.

LOVOT robot

Is it squishy? It would be awesome if it was squishy.

I... I kind of love this? Normally this sort of thing would give me creepy vibes. But I kind of want LOVOT to be my pet. Or my child.

Made in Japan, the team behind it say their goal is simple – to create a robot that makes you happy. They also say: “LOVOT was born for just one reason – to be loved by you.” Aw.

It does look a little strange, but it’s very ‘kawaii’ – the Japanese culture of cuteness.

Cuddling, touching or even watching your new buddy apparently relaxes you and helps you feel better. I am always in need of stress relief, so I’d be up for some robot hugs.

It can scan the room and find you immediately, like a puppy. Good thing is, though, it doesn’t need toilet training.

It has a horn-shaped antenna, so LOVOT can recognise its surroundings. The antenna has sensors, a 360-degree half-sphere camera, a half-sphere microphone that can detect where sounds are coming from, and a thermal camera that differentiates between living things and objects. So if you have larger pets, it might want to love them, too. Therefore, your LOVOT may be dead by morning.

The bot is 43cm tall, weighs a mere 3kg and moves on wheels.  Sensors detect obstacles in its path, and measure how far away objects are.

What is super cool about LOVOT, as well as its ‘brain’/computer, is its deep-learning FPGA – an electronic circuit for efficiently conducting deep-learning deductions. It can decide what to do next, and its character changes according to how you treat it. So it’s a little try-hard that wants your love.

Its eye display expresses itself with “natural effects”, like blinking. Not the words I’d use, but there you go. Its ‘voice’ is inside it, so it apparently gives the feeling of “life and vitality”.

Oh, it also laughs if you tickle it and makes happy noises when you stroke it. The LOVOT has sensors all over – when you touch it, it will either be surprised or want more caresses. OK, it’s starting to get a little strange.

It can be a decent baby monitor, letting you know if anything goes awry, and is also a good lookout when you leave the house.

It only needs to be charged once a day, and needs an internet connection for software updates, application linkage, data backup and such.

 

Breadbot

Bread vending machine?! Heck yeah!

This awesome piece of machinery is designed for supermarkets and lets customers know where, when and how their loaf was made.

Made by Wilkinson Baking Company, the BreadBot can bake 10 loaves an hour, which is said to be the optimal number of loaves according to grocery stores surveyed by the company.

It also makes requests, such as ‘please empty the cabinet of bread’, ‘I need more mix’, ‘I’m finished baking today’, or ‘I’m done with this. I’m out. I am more than just a bread maker’. The last one isn’t true. Anyway, it means bakery staff spend less time pouring mix and slicing bread.

It also cleans itself, so that’s a definite bonus.

Each BreadBot has a touchscreen for easy monitoring. Customers can choose their loaf via an LED button.

The breads available are organic seeds and grains, organic wholewheat, nine grain, wholewheat, and homestyle wheat. Me likey.

 

Walkcar

Don’t walk, glide.

Made in Tokyo, it’s dubbed the world’s smallest car.

It’s not your laptop – don’t make that mistake; that would be costly. Then again, the ‘car in your bag’ sells for US$1,280 (around £975).

What I’m thinking is that only people who skate, or have had practice with those hoverboard thingies, or are spectacularly good at balance, are going to be OK using this.

I will probably need shin pads, a helmet, elbow pads, mouthguard, armoured vest... the list goes on. Basically, I’d be a liability for anyone on the street who walks, like a normal human being. They would be at risk of injury as I fall into them, using them as a sort of human shield/airbag.

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