In Depth: Rise of the robots: 10 smart bots ready to take over your home


Rise of the robots

Jibo robot

Picture the scene: you are at home and things are just getting on top of you. Household chores have piled up to the point that you can’t walk anywhere without leaving dust-based footsteps, the grass in your garden is higher than Snoop Dogg on a weekend and the alarm clock that wakes you up every morning does nothing else but stay on your bedside table chiding you.

What you need is a robot. Scrap that: you need an army of robots that are going to take hold of your sorry life and revitalise it with mechanics. There are plenty of self-thinking droids around now that will help make your life easier – from cleaning your house to massaging your broken body and even replacing other people as your best friend.

Here are 10 of our favourites, complete with a rating as to how likely they are to go sentient and take over the world – because that’s the sort of thing we worry about at TechRadar.

1. Dyson 360 Eye

Dyson 360 Eye

The newest robot vacuum cleaner is also one of the best. The Dyson 360 Eye was 18 years in the making and has cost the company about $56 million in pre-production, with many a prototype made before the ‘bots final incarnation.

The result is a rather clever cleaner. Instead of mapping a room, like its rival the Roomba, the Dyson uses its ‘eye’ to navigate 360 degrees around the rooms in your house. It’s smaller than any other robot vac on the market so will get into those nooks that are gathering dust and will clean for around 45 minutes before coming back to its own home to recharge.

Chances of turning sentient: Very high.

It’s made by a bloke named Dyson, who just happens to be the name of the inventor in Terminator that accidentally causes the development of Skynet. Go figure.

Available from Dyson

2. iRobot Scooba 450

iRobot Scooba 450

Not content with owning the robot vacuum market, iRobot has also created a floor-scrubbing robot. The Scooba is the first robot that will scrub your filthy floors and get rid of 99.3% of household bacteria, which means it leaves a mere 0.7% of danger in its wake.

It does this by having a three-cycle cleaning process where it sweeps up and pre-soaks the floor, then lets its brushes spin at 600RPM, wiping away the dirt and finishing with a final squeegee like all good robot floor scrubbers should.

Chances of turning sentient: Low.

This is a robot that plays with water – there’s a pretty good chance it would fry its electronics before thinking about taking over the world.

Available from iRobot

3. RoboMow RS630

RoboMow RS630

The only way mowing the lawn is fun is if you are lucky enough to have a massive lawn, get one of those sit-down mowers and pretend you are playing Mario Kart. Otherwise it’s a massive chore bore. Well, it was before the robot gods decided to give us something called the Robomow.

The Robomow is a robot mower equipped with a strong cutting system that will cut your lawn in super-quick time without you having a to do anything, other than control the thing with your smartphone. It is also equipped with a rain sensor so if the weather is inclement then it will go back to its charger and wait until things are dry again.

Chances of turning sentient: Moderate.

We can’t see the Robomow taking on the world on its own but given it’s equipped with a blade, be very wary if you see one zooming down the street.

Available from Robomow

4. Nanda Clocky

Nanda Clocky

Now this is a strange one. Nanda Clocky is a self-thinking alarm clock that runs away and hides from you when the alarm goes off. The idea being that you have to get out of bed, find the thing and turn it off.

Doing this will mean you are wide awake and not in the least bit annoyed that you spent the first 20 minutes of your day chasing a stupid robot in your pants.

Given how boisterous this gadget is, you would have expected it to have been made by some twisted sadist in an underground lab but it was actually created by Gauri Nanda, a rather brainy MIT graduate.

Chances of turning sentient: None.

There’s no way this thing would ever turn sentient and take over the world, because anyone that owns one would have taken the batteries out within a week’s use – or battered the thing to death with a shoe. You should never mess with sleepy people.

Available from Amazon

5. WheeMe Massage Robot

WheeMe Massage Robot

Everyone loves a massage but usually the reason they love having one is because it is being given by another human with real human hands. That and you can listen to Enya legitimately, with no remorse. WheeMe wants to take humans out of the equation and offer up a massage robot style.

This little device uses sensor technology to drive itself over your back and create that soothing sensation that only robots can. The WheeMe also vibrates and has a ‘Tingle Fingers’ add-on. We will just leave that information there while we go and have a cold shower.

Chances of turning sentient: Low.

The WheeMe Massage Robot isn’t likely to go sentient and take over the world but, to be honest, if it does you’ll be too relaxed to care.

Available from Amazon

6. Alpha 1S Humanoid Robot

Alpha 1S Humanoid Robot

Its eyes may be full of evil but there’s a lot to love about the Alpha 1S ‘bot. This robot apes human movement thanks to its 16 patented joints and will dance, walk and even play football to entertain you.

It can also sing and is fully programmable – all controlled by its dedicated app. Its maker reckons the robot is interactive, educational and futuristic. We just think it’s just pretty cool.

Chances of turning sentient: Moderate.

The Alpha 1S Humanoid Robot only does what you program it to do but that could all change with a plot twist, the appearance of Arnold Schwarzenegger and a $250 million Hollywood budget.

Available from Amazon

7. Asus Zenbo

Asus Zenbo

Not content with offering up lovely looking laptops, Asus has created what it calls ‘a smart little companion’. The Zenbo is multi-faceted: it can show movies on its screen, react to emergencies in the home and go up to people and speak reminders to them.

Also, if your life is too busy that you can’t put down your smartphone for five minutes to teach the children you decided to have, then the Zenbo will even educate the kids you try so hard to ignore.

It’s the most robot-like robot on this list which means it is also the one that scares us the most – just look at its anthropomorphised face!

Chances of turning sentient: It probably already has.

This robot can do pretty much everything, which means it is already plotting how to overpower you. You have been warned.

Available from Asus

8. Double 2 Telepresence Robot

Double 2 Telepresence Robot

When you really want to be somewhere but can’t be, FaceTime is a damn-good substitution. But there’s a small problem with it: it’s not actually like ‘really’ being there. Really being there would be being able to move around and follow the person you are speaking to like some sort of cyber stalker.

Enter Double 2. This device allows you to put an iPad on a robot-controlled pole so you feel like you are in the room with the people you are conversing with.

It’s an interesting idea and is one that’s already been used by Edward Snowden who’s not really allowed out of his hotel in Russia because of, well, we all know that story. Double Robotics are pitching this one at offices, but we could easily see us using this in the home, if only to terrorise our grans.

Chances of turning sentient: Low.

Given Double Robotic finds it a little difficult turning a corner, we doubt it will turn sentient any time soon. And if it does, your iPad is always one update away from being bricked anyway.

Available from Double Robotics

9. Jibo


Despite sounding like a massive insult, Jibo is actually the world’s first social robot. What that means in plain English is that it can send reminders, communicate in an emotive way and pretty much act like a personal assistant.

The way it does this is with a smattering of AI and the help of two hi-res cameras that it uses to recognise and track faces. Given Jibo is currently not out yet – you can sign up for the waiting list – we have no idea if it can actually do all these things, but it looks pretty cool and its website has a fancy video and everything.

Chances of turning sentient: High.

If it does everything its makers say it does then Jibo is already sentient, watching your every move and just waiting for that perfect moment to pounce.

Pre-order from Jibo

10. SoftBank Pepper

SoftBank Pepper

SoftBank has been in the news of late because it is the Japanese company set to takeover British chip architecture firm Arm. But before it got into Brexit-bargain acquisitions, it spent some of its time building impressive robots.

The most impressive of which is Pepper. Pepper is said to be the first robot in the world to read emotions. So, if you are sad Pepper will know. Pepper. Will. Know.

Currently only available in Japan, Pepper has already been snapped up by a company, where it has got the robots selling insurance to passersby – because that is the first thing anyone should do when they purchases one of the world’s most advanced robots, teach it to sell insurance.

In the home, the robot will pretty much replace your loved ones so you may as well get rid of them now in preparation for Pepper’s impending arrival.

Chances of turning sentient: Do you really need to ask that?

Pepper reads human emotions. I repeat, Pepper reads human emotions. It is more sentient than you are.

Available from SoftBank

Want more robot fun? Well, check out the robot that wants to deliver you your lunch.


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