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CES 2021: The robots are still coming. These are some of the best ones on the way

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Even though the event is virtual, CES delivers no shortage of big screens or nifty gadgets. But let’s be real: both of those are lame compared to the robots.

Every year, tech lovers are wooed to CES by the prospects of a digital future inching closer towards that of The Jetsons: with cars taking to the skies and robots tending to our needs.

We’re still years away from the flying cars, but finding robots to help us with everyday chores, and maybe offer us a little companionship, might be closer than we think.

Here’s a peek at some of the robots at CES hoping to lend a metal hand.

Meet Handy from Samsung

Samsung trotted out not one, but two robots—and they’re both absolutely adorable. Bot Care features an AI-powered companion that can recognize and respond to your behavior. “You’ve been on your computer too long,” said the bot to a human at work. “How about stretching and taking a short break?” Another portion of the demo run by Samsung on Monday shows the bot offering a reminder about a future meeting, then displaying a tablet from the top of its head with the meeting ready to go.

Then there’s Handy, aptly named since it’s a robot with giant arm and hand capable of various tasks. The robot uses AI to sense and recognize objects, so it can tell if it’s holding something breakable like a dish or glass. During the demo, Handy loaded the dishwasher, set the table and poured a glass of wine. Get out of my dreams and get into my house.

More robots that suck

Sorry, Roomba, but you’re going to have more competition. Samsung also introduced the JetBot 90, what they’re dubbing the first “smart robotic vacuum.” It uses light detection and ranging (LIDAR)—a technology used in self-driving cars that helps measure distance—and AI to efficiently move around your home and clean. It will return on its own to a station and empty dirt and dust into a bag owners must change every two to three months. You can also control it from an app to schedule cleanings or even serve as a camera to watch your home while away.

If vacuuming isn’t enough, there’s the Roborock S7 advanced robot cleaning device that both vacuums and mops. It offers several high-scrub settings capable of reaching as high as 3,000 per minute.

LG’s robot built for COVID-19 world

LG Electronics fast-tracked its autonomous disinfecting robot—an addition to its CLOi robot line—after it was approached in April by a major hotel company about a possible product that could disinfect hotel rooms.

The five foot-tall robot has an array of three ultraviolet (UV-C) lights on each side that disinfect areas as it drives itself throughout the room. Its light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors follow the room’s dimensions and can disinfect a room in 10 to 12 minutes.

The robot has applications beyond hotels, including restaurants, schools, health care facilities and other travel businesses.

“Certain businesses that been impacted worse than others,” says Michael Kosla, vice president of LG Business Solutions U.S.. “We are talking to long-term care companies about how this can help them keep residents safer and keep their employees safer. Anywhere you can really imagine you have people and that you have virus it’s applicable.”

LG expects to begin shipping the robots in April. It is working with the FDA and other agencies to certify its virus-killing abilities.

More bots at the workplace

The Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan developed a Dual Arm Robot System (DARS) that can perform different tasks for humans without specific tools. The robot features hands similar to humans with enough dexterity to even perform on a piano. ITRI said the system could serve in industries such as manufacturing, health care and hazardous environment operation.

You can snuggle them, too

Yes, you can have a robot as a pet. The Moflin from Vanguard Industries is an AI pet the company claims “possesses emotional capabilities that evolve like living animals.” It’s furry, too, and boasts its own personality like a real pet. Best of all, it won’t poop in your house.

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