Little Cozmo robot fits in palm of hand and pet-loving hearts

October 17, 2016 by Nancy Owano

(Tech Xplore)—For $180 the Anki Cozmo is prepared to be a member of the household, playing games, exhibiting human-like personality traits and winning hearts. But that is also a problem. Four-legged family members may feel the burn of a new intruder.

Reviews Editor Alex Cranz in Gizmodo had such a household jealousy issue. "My dog hates the robot. When I sit on the floor to play with the robot, the dog gets up with a huff and comes over. His tail wags, and he gets in my face. When I avoid him because I have a robot to review he...sits on the robot."

Not that her cat is taking her side. "His eyes follow the robot's every move warily. He rarely swipes at the bot. He just studies it. Waiting."

Call it a supercomputer on treads. And a funny one at that. It's not easy to watch the Anki promotional video without wanting to bring Cozmo home. Little Cozmo makes its rounds on a tabletop, makes a face when he sees another robot and another face when it realizes it is too close to the table's edge for comfort.

About those cubes: Simplebotics which is a blog that covers robotics and drones, described some of the things one can do with the cubes.

"Quick tap is played by tapping a power cube quicker than Cozmo when the colors match. Another game, Keepaway, challenges users to keep a power cube out of Cozmo's reach. The games are fun, but Cozmo's reactions are the best part. Like a toddler, Cozmo reacts with excitement and glee if he wins or sulks in a frustrated manner if he loses in a game."

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Anki has spent some time developing the toy robot, looking to achieve a friendly face, a winning style of movement, capabilities of face recognition and, said Cranz, a "small spectrum" of emotions.

San Francisco Bureau Chief Tom Simonite in MIT Technology Review, said, "The startup behind Cozmo, Anki, was founded by robotics PhDs. They worked with experienced animators to try to create a physical machine that exudes the kind of plucky personality you might see in a Pixar movie character."

Cozmo is a mobile manipulator. It can see people and recognizes them—yes, that gives you goosebumps the first time it happens.

The team met while studying robotics at Carnegie Mellon. Their focus on Cozmo indicates that while we think of robots in manufacturing and defense industries as sophisticated, a little household robot that can connect with humans via play and communication has its intelligence and design challenges.

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Each robot has hundreds of parts. Cozmo is the result of a team with varied expertise in such areas as industrial design, game design, sound engineering and animation.

The Cozmo owner needs an app on an iOS or Android device. You connect to Cozmo's wi-fi and then follow a setup procedure, said Cranz. You can teach Cozmo habits via the app.

Now comes the part for those who are into robots and are not afraid of the Python coding language or learning Python. The SDK from the company means you can manipulate its AI as you like.

The SDK, said Cranz, carries a potential to interact with Cozmo further.

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"Using the regular Cozmo app you can actually access all the software guts of the . So you can see how it tracks paths or recognizes faces and build on that—or use it to create you own quick scripts," she wrote.

Hanns Tappeiner, Anki president and co-founder, talked to Simonite in a video. He showed how little Cosmo walks around some cubes trying to figure out how does its world look. Where are people around? Are they people? Sophisticated computer vision is used for it to recognize faces.

Explore further: Cozmo is little in size, bigger in brains and social skills

More information: anki.com/en-us/cozmo

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