Robots can be seen in use all over the world, with manufacturing, transport and even military robots all paving the way towards an automated future. One area where robotics hasn’t really taken off is in the average household, but that is going to change if Yossi Wolf has anything to say about it.
Wolf is the CEO of Roboteam Home and former CEO of Roboteam Defence, companies focused on creating robots. “We started with almost nothing but a very big dream of making robots, and we envisioned robotics would be the next big wave following PCs and the internet, and we started with a big dream and no money,” Wolf told iDigitalTimes. “Very quickly we got orders from governments, and jumping seven years ahead, we have a full operation today with 120 employees, operating from three locations, two in Tel Aviv and one in America.”
While Roboteam Defense has proven successful, with numerous government contracts in 32 different countries, it’s selling to average consumers that Wolf really wants to get into. “We realized a few years ago that what we really wanted to do was move into the ocean of the essential, and have a larger impact with robots for consumers,” he said. “Consumer business is the holy grail, but it’s very risky.”
The risk seems to be paying off already, as several big-name investors have contributed quite a bit of money to the project. Just 18 months ago, John Wu, the ex-CTO of Alibaba, gave $10 million. An additional $50 million from other investors has been raised recently as well.
With all of this money, Wolf has designed and prototyped a home robot that he feels will be “the iPhone” of robotics. “Imagine the video revolution, like Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp. Add the AI revolution, Google, Alexa, and add the evolution of smart devices,” Wolf said while describing the device. “Combine them together into one piece of technology, and you’ll have a robot.”
Wolf kept the specifics on the robot to a minimum, but did say the device will be similar to familiar smart home devices, but even more involved. “Imagine the people who are using the Echo device today, but it can now move around with a display,” he said. “We made a breakthrough with robotic innovation that allows you to interact with robots in a great way and not just as a demonstrator.”
More details about the robot, including a name and price, will be coming in the following months. As far as price goes, Wolf imagines this will be comparable to other smart devices. “It must be very affordable. It can’t be cheap, but it can’t be too expensive,” said Wolf. “It needs to be in the range where someone could buy it for a Christmas present. When I say the iPhone of robots, you can imagine the price area.”
One helpful way to keep the price down is Roboteam Home does most of the work in-house. “We developed by ourselves the hardware if needed, and we are using the most advanced algorithms to use the minimum hardware,” Wolf said. “Robots you see out there are very expensive, or they are low-cost and then just toys.”
The first robot from Roboteam Home is scheduled to release later this year. The company has already begun ramping up production to ensure there will be enough units at launch to meet demand for the device.
As for other household devices from the robotics company, those might take some time. Wolf mentioned that it’s incredibly difficult to turn robotics into a profitable venture. “Concepts of robots, I can give you hundreds,” he said. “Making revenue from robots, you’ll have a hard time.”
More details about Roboteam Home’s first robot for consumers will be released in the coming months.
So what do you think? Are you interested in how robotics can improve your daily life? Do you think you’d want one of these devices from Roboteam Home? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.