RobotRepublic — Remember Buddy the Robot? He’s been the toast of the Consumer Electronics show, what is it now, three years running now?
Well, despite the killer first, second and third impression, Blue Frog Robotics quietly halted Buddy sales awhile ago. But judging from its win, last week, of a CES 2018 Innovation & Design award in the robotics category, a new and markedly improved version of the little family service robot may be on the way.
After all, company docs show that the project, originally funded via Indiegogo, is newly liquid thanks to a $10M cash injection from an investor. Those funds were earmarked, according to a release, for R&D on human-robot interface issues.
Translation: The firm may finally be revamping and updating Buddy’s facial and object recognition features.
That’s critical. As you can see in Blue Frog’s 2015 publicity video, Buddy’s supposed to be a family-targeted robot: one that patrols the house when you’re not around, welcomes guests, helps mom and dad with daily household tasks and, even, reads bedtime stories to the children.
But as this early review of Buddy’s capabilities in the MIT Technology Journal illustrates, Buddy’s machine vision just wasn’t up to the marketing vision — not then anyway.
Execs at the French company have yet to return calls for comment on the matter, but a European ship date of Christmas 2017 is now listed on its website. Could a US release of a better Buddy be far behind? Stay tuned.
Second chances are hard to come by, we know. But one look at that face and maybe, just maybe, the US market will give him one chance more.
Good luck, Buddy. See you in Vegas.
For RobotRepublic, I’m Skimbo Jones.