I'm a bit torn when it comes to "The Jetsons'" vision of the future. Flying cars? Count me in. But Rosie, the family's omnipresent robot housekeeper is kind of...meddlesome. I mean, do we really want autonomous busybodies taking control of our homes?
If Paris-based startup Blue Frog Robotics' Indiegogo campaign for Buddy -- a "companion robot" designed to help you out with everything from basic reminders to security and even smart gadget control -- is any indication, we really, really do.
With just hours to go on the Buddy crowdfunding project, backers have contributed over $400,000/£255,000/AU$550,000 toward the promise of a real-life Rosie (well exceeding Blue Frog Robotics' original $100,000 goal).
Weighing in at 11 pounds (5kg) and just shy of 2 feet tall (56cm), Buddy has built-in motorized wheels designed to travel roughly 2 feet per second. And it's supposed to operate autonomously, moving from room to room with a battery life expectancy of up to 10 hours. The team also offers a docking station (sold separately) if you want Buddy to automatically return to a charging base.
Outfitted with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth tech, Buddy is supposed to be able to tackle all sorts of tasks. It can keep track of your agenda, wake you up in the morning, and act as a teleconferencing portal, a video- and music-streaming device and a home security sentry (via built-in camera).
It's also supposed to work with third-party smart home products like Parrot Flower Power , Nest Learning Thermostat , Nest Protect , Netatmo Weather Station , MyFox Smart Home Security System , Lifx LEDs and others. Companion mobile apps will be available for Android, iOS and Windows users, and Buddy was built on an open platform so developers can get in on the action, too.
We haven't seen anything quite like Buddy before, although the concept of household robots isn't new. (Blue Frog Robotics co-founder, Rodolphe Hasselvander, hails from the CRIIF Robotics Lab, so this team has some experience in the field.) Still, these types of devices are only just entering the retail realm and even at a discounted Indiegogo rate, Buddy robots don't come cheap.
Early backers were able to snatch up units for a cool $500, but that price tier has since sold out. Now you'll have to offer up at least $650/£415/AU$890 to get one of your own (and that doesn't include the automatic docking station -- sold separately for an additional $150/£95/AU$205). Blue Frog Robotics plans to begin delivery of Buddy robots in December, and they are available to ship worldwide.