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Robots in the spotlight at CES 2019

Robots in the spotlight at CES 2019 article image

The latest in consumer robotics will again be on show at CES 2019 – the largest and most influential tech event in the world – which opens in Las Vegas this week.

From the cute and lovable to the practical and convenient, robots will again take centre stage.

The world’s biggest consumer electronics companies, including LG, Sony, Hyundai, Panasonic and Samsung will feature their latest robotic technology along with a raft of cool robotics startups.

This year’s show hosts more than 4,500 exhibitors encompassing robotics, 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, sports technology, smart cities and resilience – including more than 1,200 startups from over 50 countries.

The show is expected to attract more than 180,000 visitors and will feature 250 conference sessions and 1,100 speakers.

Once again, service robots are well-represented at CES, from robot vacs to use at home, to business-owned robots designed to help you out in public places, such as retail stores and airports.

LG-CLOi-SuitBot (1)LG is going all out on robotics at the show again in 2019, showing off the updated version of the CLOi SuitBot, which supports the lower body to reduce stress when lifting and bending.

The electronics giant is also showcasing enhancements to its PorterBot, ServeBot and CartBot, all of which draw on the latest developments in AI.

"The progress made by our entire robot lineup points to our commitment to deliver a robotic solution for the real world in the very near future," said Roh Jin-seo, head of LG's robotics business, in a media statement.

Not to be outdone, ATOUN, a Panasonic group company based in Japan is making its CES debut with the 'Model Y' Exoskeleton.

At the ATOUN booth visitors can try on the two types of exoskeletons: Powered Wear ATOUN Model Y that assists bending and stretching of the waist and Powered Wear HIMICO (prototype) that is designed to support walking.ATOUN

Since ATOUN started domestic sales of "ATOUN Model Y" in July last year, the company has secured orders for 160 units of them. This month, ATOUN will start selling the Powered Wear ATOUN MODEL Y to overseas markets.

You can also expect to see a plethora of non-traditional robots at CES 2019 – drones, arms and vehicles – showing off new skills and developments in artificial intelligence.

Honda is back this year with more robotics, including its new Honda Autonomous Work Vehicle. This is a rugged self-driving car in miniature, designed to tackle tricky terrain or hazardous environments, providing assistance to the likes of firefighters and rescue workers. 

Honda is also showing off its artificial intelligence development with the PATH (Predicting Action of The Human) Bot, which uses cameras and sensors to make its way through crowds, and with the Honda RaaS (Robotics as a Service) Platform.

Honda autonomous work vehicle

The growth of "cloud robotics" is an important trend at CES this year.

"Modern, connected robot systems are no longer isolated and limited by onboard computation, memory, and data storage capacity," said James Kuffner, CEO at the Toyota Research Institute.

"Whether it be self-driving or home robots, the technology is rapidly improving. The future is truly bright for cloud-enabled robots with fleet learning capabilities."

And Softbank's humanoid robot Pepper is back at CES this year, but it won't be alone.

Instead, Softbank will be demonstrating the ways in which two different robots can work together to speed up automated activities.

Pepper is collaborating with Tally of Simbe Robotics to perform a number of retail-based tasks to show how it's important for different smart technology to integrate.

Softbank will also demonstrate how it uses robotics to enhance STEM education.

Also on show is Lovot, a new companion robot from Japanese startup Groove X.

Groove X's founder, Kaname Hayashi, is best known as the creater of the iconic Pepper robot during his time at Softbank.

Lovot, a puppy-eyed bot that looks like a fleecy baby sloth, is designed to cure loneliness.

It can move around independently on retractable wheels and interact with you via sound, touch and physical movements. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with this cool little companion bot. 

Kiki                                      

Other companion robots at CES 2019 include an adorable pet called KiKi from Zoetic AI.

With distinctive feline features, KiKi is a stationary desktop pal who just wants to be petted.

Mabot and Modi will also unveil new modular robotics toys, both of which are CES Innovation Award Honorees this year.

Other service robots at this year’s show include updated versions of ShopPal, a shopping companion, and FoldiMate, a robot that folds your laundry along with some cutting-edge robo-vacs from iRobot, Ecovacs and Coral.

British company Cambridge Consultants is also due to showcase some new skills for robots of the future. One piece of robotic software, called DeepRay, learns what real-world scenes and objects look like, and promises to outperform humans and existing machine vision approaches in reconstructing clear images under difficult conditions.

Another project, under the name of Gerard, allows a robot to autonomously explores physical spaces, becoming aware of where it's been, its current location and objects in its environment.

With all of these capabilities combined, Gerard aims to understand who you are, what you're saying and what your gestures mean in the context of your surroundings -- allowing you to give the robot instructions while pointing at something.

At CES 2019, China's Largest Omni-channel Retailer Suning will unveil Biu Robot, an AI shopping robot based on emotion recognition.

The Biu Robot is basically an intelligent vending machine.

The robot can cruise within a certain range of any venue carrying goods and utilizes weighing-recognition technology to identify any that are picked-up by passing customers.

Customers are then able to make a payment simply by scanning a QR code on the robot.

The Biu Robot can be easily deployed and is flexible for use in various scenarios, helping to improve automated smart retail operations.

CES 2019 is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) – a trade organisation representing more than 2,000 consumer tech companies in the US. 

The show runs from Tuesday, January 8 and ends on Friday, January 11.

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