Glowing digital eyes momentarily transforming into hearts, the robot gently closed a pincer "hand" around the phone, lifted it above eye level and snapped a selfie. This is Aeo, the newest version of a robot from Aeolus, on display at CES 2023, the world's largest consumer tech show.
The Aeo was designed to be a helper, with features that include the ability to deliver food and medicine to older adults. Its appendages are strong enough to lift an 8-pound cooler and gentle enough to hold a phone without dropping or crushing it with its mechanical robot arms.
I also watched Aeo simultaneously maneuver that cooler while a different kind of arm zoomed in and disinfected a specific surface with ultraviolet light. Perhaps what's most interesting is that Aeo is able to complete most of these tasks without much human involvement. Through its sensors, the robot is able to "see" obstacles in its path and avoid them.
When a human told the robot to pick up the cooler and set it on a table during a demonstration for CNET, Aeo navigated around obstacles to figure out exactly how high it had to lift the cooler in order to get it on the table.
Read more: Coding Pups and Humanoid Helpers: Get to Know the Robots of CES 2023
The latest version of Aeo has a human-like head, complete with a screen displaying a pair of large eyes and two arms that can be customized depending on the need. It's meant to feel more human and help take some of the weight off actual human workers. For example, in elder care facilities, it's already used in Japan, having made its debut at CES 2018.
Aeo is also able to learn the difference between caregivers and patients. It can tell by looking at a person's posture whether they might have taken a fall and need help.
In addition to elder care facilities, Aeolus is hoping to get its robots into places like offices and schools for help with security patrols. Pricing hasn't been announced, but the company hopes to rent out Aeo robots as a service rather than selling them.