Here’s another sign pointing to the arrival of social robots: Blue Frog Robotics is holding a pre-sale of 1,000 Buddy companion robots for $699, which is about 10 percent cheaper than the planned list price when Buddy ships in the fourth quarter of 2016.
If you really want to open your wallet or get some early holiday shopping done, there’s a Buddy 12-pack available for $6,990 – you pay for 10 of them and get two for free. Blue Frog is also offering the Buddy docking station for pre-order for $150.
The Buddy pre-sale actually started on February 2, 2016, but the store was shut down after experiencing some technical issues. According to the company, “a number of attempted orders were not being processed” so the store was shut down so the company could “look into it with their bank.” Blue Frog re-opened the store once the issues were resolved.
Buddy created quite the buzz at CES 2016 and participated in the Robotics Trends “See them Live! Robot Revue” session, which you can watch in the video below. Buddy is designed to assist family members in their daily lives, monitoring your home, interacting with smart home devices, playing games with kids and providing information and reminders to adults. Buddy has been used to help children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other special needs learn to communicate, interact with others, and be more autonomous.
Buddy’s brain is an integrated, 8-inch tablet with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. His 3D vision lets him easily track and interpret hand, arm and head movements, distinguish among objects, faces, animals, plants, etc., and gauge the depth of objects in his sight.
Buddy is fully mobile with three wheels and a plethora of sensors allowing him to travel, learn and interact with the world around him. Buddy was built on a modular, flexible open source platform to allow hardware and software developers to build a portfolio of applications specifically targeted to professionals in education and health care, as well as in other markets that are realizing the benefits of a companion robot.
The performance of the pre-sale could be a barometer of Buddy’s popularity in the social robot world. For several months now, 1,000 units of Aldebaran’s Pepper humanoid robot have sold out in one minute. And the latest batch of Jibos offered for sale, at a pre-release price of $750, have been sold out since last August.