It's a sad and lonely world out there — but Japanese startup Groove X has a perfect solution for anyone with a huge stockpile of cash.
The company's new companion robot Lovot ($6,000 for a pair) is built with one purpose in mind: making you feel less dead inside.
The most surprising part: These cute little robots actually work! Watching them roll around the showroom floor at CES 2019 warmed my heart in the same way seeing an adorable puppy would have. They're undeniably lovable, and practically beg to be interacted with.
The Lovot robots caught my attention during a small showcase on one of the first nights of the conference. Those big doe eyes are almost impossible to miss from across the room, plus the robots drew a massive crowd pretty quickly.
These robots have heaps of personality. They wag their pudgy arms, stare cautiously at new faces, and they absolutely LOVE being held and hugged. If artificial companionship is what you're looking for, these robots have plenty to offer.
My favorite part about these weird little creatures is they're some of the most sophisticated gadgets I've seen at CES 2019. Each Lovot has over 50 sensors embedded in its body that help it move around a person's home, and they can convincingly recognize and interact with people as though they were a part of the family. They're like having small puppies that need love and affection every second of the day.
The Lovots look a lot like alien-penguin creatures, and I know it's a little weird to say, but they're super realistic. They stare up at people towering over them, trying to identify new faces and old friends. The camera that sits on the top of their head like a hair bun gives them facial recognition abilities, and it also helps them avoid crashing into things.
Each Lovot also has its own unique personality, powered by artificial intelligence, that develops quirks over time. For example, you can dress your Lovots in a wide range of goofy clothing, and each will begin to prefer certain outfits. Although Lovots don't say any words, their emotive animations and coos are universal enough that you will naturally know how to respond.
If by now, you're still in disbelief that these robots even exist, you should know that this is part of a growing trend. The popular Netflix show Master of None featured a similar "companion robot" called Paro back in 2015 (that one is only about $5,000). The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry expects the robotics service industry to reach $4 billion annually by 2035. So expect to see many more of these weird, lovable robot companions in the near future.
The Lovot is available for pre-order now, and costs $6,000 for two. Groove X says they expect to start shipping in 2020. But if you decide to purchase a set, just remember, you can probably buy an actual human friend for that type of money.