Buddy Social Robot Is 500% Funded
Written by Lucy Black   
Monday, 07 September 2015

What is it about social robots that makes them so attractive? The latest is Buddy as its Indegogo campaign is coming to a close with over $500,000 pledged - 500% over the inital goal.

I don't know about you, but I want a robot to help with the chores not the chats. But I seem to be in a minority if the recent crowd funding of Jibo and Buddy are anything to go by. 

A social robot is one that is designed to interact with humans and be "helpful" in ways that are not particularly tangible. The robot might take a photo, or remind you of an appointment,or play you some music, but it won't physically interact with the world which means it cannot bring you a drink or load the dishwasher.  

The point is that it is hard to build a mobile robot that has the ability to move around and pick things up - see our report of the recent Darpa Robot Challenge if you want to see how difficult it is - but it is generally thought to be easy to build one that listens and talks to you. Of course, in reality it isn't at all easy - as Siri and Cortana serve to remind us.




Buddy has two driven wheels and an articulated head but no arms - well there are some available as an extra. The advertising literature presents Buddy as a sort of highly intelligent pet that can follow you about, interact with you and do useful things like suggesting recipes when you are cooking. In practice the degree of richness of the interaction all comes down to the software and this is a difficult area. 

As we reported earlier Buddy has an SDK and there's still time if you are quick to order the Buddy Developer Edition by pledging $799 ($749 plus $50 shipping) for delivery around a month before the end users start to receive theirs. There are also some of the higher-priced, non-developer models available.  




With the success of the  campaign, 12 stretch goals will be implemented, including:


  • Kids programming environment
  • Special Kids pack (i.e Autism)
  • Side tray accessory with USB charging
  • Expressions pack
  • Elder pack
  • Hackathon
  • Black color
  • Memory extension to 32 GB
  • Air quality sensing module
  • Easypath application to create your own smart applications
  • IBM Watson integration


Of course we mustn't get this success out of proportion. Raising half a million dollars only translates to around 500 robots and this isn't a big initial market for software, but it might grow. With its speech recognition, object detection and tracking, and text to speech, it is clear that there are potential uses for such a device and you can see the attraction of trying to put together some code that does what you want - answer the door phone, act as a security device etc.

I guess we will have to wait and see if Buddy and his like become popular. Perhaps it will take an Apple or a Google social robot for the wider world to take notice. 




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Last Updated ( Monday, 07 September 2015 )