Anki’s Cozmo robot is the best robot of 2016

By | December 30, 2016

Anki's Cozmo robotIf you haven’t heard of the tiny, adorable, smart, programmable, robot Cozmo then you have missed out on the best robot of 2016 and, possibly, the best entertainment robot ever build!

Yes, we are not exaggerating when we say it is the best. We have one here, and it’s the best thing we’ve spent a couple hundred dollars on this year.

Cozmo is the tiny robot made and sold by San Fransisco-based Anki. His look and expressive eyes along with the non-stop life sound track that is constantly playing in the background is heavily reminiscent of WALL-E. And it should be as Cozmo’s expressions were designed by a former Pixar animator. It is incredible how much it feels as if a cartoon character has leaped out of the big screen and landed right into your living room.

Technically, Cozmo is a marvel of engineering. It has a build-in Wi-Fi server that you connect with your mobile phone or tablet. You must download Anki’s Cozmo app and, after making sure that Cozmo is fully charged by resting on his little home base, you are ready for many hours of fun. Cozmo’s smarts run on the tethered mobile device. He senses the world using a low-resolution camera (VGA) that is sufficient to detect and track faces as well as the toy cubes that come with Cozmo and are the center of many of his activities. When Cozmo recognizes your face, he says your name. He has another sensor to help him detect any sudden drops in front of him; it is useful if you are playing with Cozmo on a table as you don’t have to worry about him falling off. That said, I had a moment that he didn’t notice the edge and I had to use my cat-like reflexes to catch him before he hit the ground!

Anki is continuously updating Cozmo with new skills and games you can play with him and his toy cubes. We’ve had him for a month and still find it fun to play with him. One of his more recent skills (ver. 1.1 of the app) is to speak any sentence you specify. You can also put Cozmo in remote control mode and drive him around directly from the app while seeing through his camera.

Cozmo is also a fantastic educational platform. Anki has released an SDK that allows any aspiring roboticist to program Cozmo with new behaviors. The SDK is still at its infancy but steadily improving. It is Open Source and if you know Python, you are in the money. You can connect Cozmo to all kinds of 3rd party APIs, e.g., Twitter, and make him do all kinds of things limited only by your imagination. We are looking forward to having some fun with Cozmo’s SDK and posting about our experiences on this blog.

We have no doubt that Cozmo is easily one of the best products of 2016 and the best consumer robot that has been developed to this day. We hope that Anki will be around for a long time to continue this cute guy’s development. Hopefully, they will allow 3rd party developer to release new skills and games for Cozmo making it an even better than imagined platform for fun and education.

If you haven’t bought one yet, what are you waiting for? Go now!