LAS VEGAS – After nearly two years of development, Mayfield Robotics at CES 2017 finally unveiled its Kuri home robot. If you live in the US, the $699 mobile robot can be pre-ordered starting today with a $100 deposit, and it will ship during the 2017 holiday season.
Kuri offers similar abilities to other social robots. A built-in HD camera lets you can check on your house or pets while you’re away; the four microphones, dual speakers and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity allow Kuri to play music or podcasts and read stories; IFTTT capabilities to connect work with smart homes.
Mayfield says Kuri will get smarter over time with regular software updates. Kuri is 20 inches tall, weighs about 14 lbs and has an app for iOS and Android for setup and control. Mayfield showed off limited voice control capabilities during our private demo, and the company plans to expand those abilities before shipping.
At first glance, Kuri somewhat resembles EVE from Wall-E, the popular Disney Pixar film. Mayfield brought in Doug Dooley, an animator at Pixar Animation Studios for 13 years, to help bring Kuri to life. Mayfield strongly feels Kuri’s personality will be its most important trait.
“If you’re a little off in that social connection, the robot becomes more of a utility,” says Mayfield Robotics CEO Mike Beebe. “And that’s not so awesome.”
Kuri has expressive eyes, “speaks robot with beeps and bloops,” and has a multi-color chest light that allows him to express his mood. Mayfield says it is adding new emotions and reactions that Kuri can autonomously display. If you tap Kuri on the head, it’ll look up at you.
“We contemplated using a screen, but we didn’t want it to look like a screen on a stick,” says Mayfield’s COO Sarah Osentoski. “One of the most important parts of Kuri is that he has a face, not a screen.”
Mayfield says Kuri can handle a wide range of flooring, and it’ll return to its docking station to “take a nap” when its two-hour battery life is running low.
Mayfield still has some work to do before shipping Kuri. The company hopes to integrate facial recognition (up to four people), expand Kuri’s voice recognition capabilities, improve its mapping algorithm, and give Kuri more reactions and emotions that it will display autonomously.
Perhaps the best news is that Kuri isn’t tied to crowdfunding, which, if you haven’t heard, has been detrimental to other social robots. Mayfield Robotics is a Bosch startup based in Redwood City, Calif.
Bosch, of course, knows a thing or two about developing products, so Mayfield should have its ducks in a row more so than other robotics startups that have struggled to get their products out the door.
“This is Bosch’s only bet in home robotics,” Beebe says. “But we’re not just pure tech-driven gear heads. We also love the product side and the user experience. A coherent character always wins over feature list. We care about Kuri being a character, not just how much horse power he has.”