Groove X’s Lovot is a fuzzy and utterly adorable robot
Some robots are designed to build cars. Others are meant to perform surgery or help astronauts in space. The Lovot, however, has a far simpler and adorable mission in life: to make you smile. The pint-sized cutie, developed by a Japanese robotics startup called Groove X, rolls around and bumps into furniture with the grace and curiosity of a five-year old toddler. The robot will stare up at you with its big, beady eyes and flap two small, pudgy hands when it wants to be picked up and coddled like a baby. At CES, I quickly fell in love with the thing. I want, no need one in my home.
In my short play session, Lovot did behave like a living, breathing creature — sometimes. It would often dance and jiggle about, for instance, if I stroked its chin or tickled its belly. The robot fell asleep when I picked it up like a baby and jolted awake when I decided, in a moment of madness, to rudely poke its nose. Other times, though, Lovot seemed utterly oblivious of my presence, or unsure what to do next. I put that down to the show floor, which was packed with people milling about and trying to take pictures — the poor thing was probably overwhelmed by outside stimuli.
Lovot is available to pre-order in Japan for 598,000 yen (roughly $5,500). That eye-watering price-tag nets you a pair of Lovots, at least, that will play with each other and likely cause twice as much chaos in your home. Groove X says the first units will ship towards the end of the year. The company will then launch Lovot in the US and start selling individual units for an unknown price in 2020. I’ll never be able to afford one, but my god I wish I could. Sorry Sony — you can keep your (also delightful) Aibo.
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Beneath the Lovot’s fabric exterior is a bevy of pressure sensors that know when it’s being touched. The plastic ‘horn’ at the top of the head, meanwhile, is packed with a half-sphere camera — which can take photos, the company told me — microphones and a thermal camera. Toward the bottom, between its wheels, is a depth-sensing camera and “obstacle sensor” that help it navigate armchairs and coffee tables. It’s crammed with components, basically, that help Lovot understand its environment and, theoretically, react in the most natural and charming way possible.