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Robots at CES: WowWee or just so-so?

If you can't afford Honda's Asimo robot (you poor wretch), then you might like to consider some of the more affordable robotic creatures on offer at CES

When you've made electric love to Honda's ludicrously expensive Asimo robot, where can you head in the anthropomorphic-robotic-creature stakes but down? Surprisingly, WowWee's RoboQuad waggled a pincer at us across the show floor and Crave was besotted. The RoboQuad is a fully articulated part-alien, part-spider hybrid that scampers about with the hurried air of a jolly pirate checking his rigging.

A normal spider's joints can only bend so far, but all of the RoboQuad's joints can spin through 360 degrees -- rather like demonic clock hands. Perhaps this provides a glimpse of what the future holds for human evolution?

RoboQuad reacts to movement and sound. When Crave placed its massive collective hand in front of RoboQuad's face, the chirpy little creature flinched back. There's also a button on the remote that makes the RoboQuad dance like your hippie uncle having an acid flashback at a wedding.

Weirder still, Crave sauntered over to say hi to the RoboPanda (pictured). This robotic panda reacts to touch and motion. Pick RoboPanda up and he asks, "Ooh, where are we going?" and, "Are we there yet?" -- perhaps in an attempt to make young children aware of how irritating it is to be badgered by a small creature's constant need to know its location. RoboPanda freaks out when shaken up and down, and comes complete with its own child, a small fluffy panda that it pets rather disturbingly -- even if it is just an inanimate toy.

The best robot on the WowWee stand at CES was the Dragonfly. This is a spectacular robotic recreation of the lowly insect. The kids at the WowWee stand occasionally managed to fly this around the show floor and catch it again, but most of the time it simply ended up punching some hapless pedestrian in the face at high speed, scarring them for life. For more information on these robots, check out WowWee's site. -CS