Will an affordable home robot come from a start-up company well before those of Xiaomi or Tesla?
Xiaomi and Tesla are going big on promoting their humanoid robots. Elon Musk talks about making robots that can do tasks such as cooking, mowing the lawn and caring for the elderly, but is it just a marketing stunt or will they really deliver an affordable home robot in the near future? At a price of more than $50,000, their robot appears to be in the range of industrial robots like the Boston Dynamics, Spot robot. Their affordable home robot might be decades away.
In contrast to the big boys, the start-up company, EEVE, already has home robots working in thousands of customers’ homes, mowing their lawns. Their upcoming model X has 2 arms and can do multiple tasks, such as weeding, cleaning the patio, mowing, collecting fruit and nuts, collecting litter, serving drinks and even pouring a beer! Today they released a video of their latest prototype doing all of those things. This model is known as Willow X and is sold at an affordable price of $4,000.
The robot revolution is unstoppable, start-ups and multinationals are pouring billions of dollars into making the home robot we all want. It’s an enormous challenge today and the failure rate is high, money is being burnt at a fast rate, and the race to deliver the first truly affordable robot is going at high speed. We don’t see many succeeding, do you have an intelligent robot at home?
Amazon tried with the Astro home robot, iRobot has some intelligent vacuum robots but is still relatively basic and still doesn’t seem to be succeeding in releasing their long-awaited lawn mowing robot. Sony has been showcasing a humanoid robot for decades until they eventually pulled the plug, recently, SoftBank halted the production of the Pepper and Anki went bankrupt after burning $180 million in funding. The list goes on and on and on… it’s a disaster! The customer doesn’t seem to find any satisfaction from robots that are being offered with the technology from the big players.
Could the answer come from the small start-up called EEVE? Maybe it’s too early to tell, however, they at least have thousands of robots mowing lawns every day. Mowing the lawn with a robot isn’t something new, but mowing the lawn with an intelligent robot, one that solely works on artificial intelligence is a true breakthrough and that is exactly what EEVE has been developing for the past 5 years. Their robot doesn’t need a perimeter wire and takes smart decisions itself several times per second. The beginning of a future in which robots can do multiple tasks for us.
Today, on the 26th of September, they showcased a leaf-shredding tool for their existing model called Willow. Customers can add the new tool to their existing robot and make the robot do multiple garden tasks. EEVE plans to release a weeder tool and a fertiliser tool in the coming 12 months and possibly even more. They are also offering an API and an SDK to developers to make their own tools, enabling the robot to do more and more tasks.
Their upcoming model, Willow X, has 2 robot arms yet is still based on the existing robot platform and will be able to use many more tools and not only tools that are specifically developed for Willow, but also manual tools that we humans use everyday day. In the video that they released, you can see Willow X mowing the lawn with a standard manual reel mower, you also see Willow X pouring a bottle of beer into a glass without using any extra tools. We have never seen robots on wheels do that before and I would definitively want a helper like that at my home!
The robot race continues, and with Willow X, we see at least the first signs of a robot that can actually do proper, meaningful tasks for us, at an affordable price. We’re looking forward to what Tesla will announce in the coming days, will Optimus be able to pour drinks for us already? To be continued…