Robotics startup Anki is ready to release its Vector robot helper to the world. The $250 robot is available now on Anki’s website, Amazon, and Best Buy.
Anki’s previous robot, the Cozmo, has been a hit with more than 1.5 million sales to date. But while Cozmo is strictly a toy that plays games, Anki is pitching Vector as a home companion of sorts. It’s packed with a quad-core processor and sensors for mapping its environment, and it can supposedly roll over to you without falling off tables or bumping into things. Along the way, it makes cute robotic blurps and reacts to being touched or moved.
The challenge now is building in more helpful functions. Today, Vector can answer simple questions, set timers, show the weather, take photos through its camera, and play a game of blackjack on its display. Support for Amazon Alexa voice commands is coming later this year, and Anki mentions security monitoring and messaging as future possibilities. The work-in-progress nature of Vector may explain why Anki’s marketing focuses on how non-threatening the robot is, rather than what it can accomplish.