• Anki Cozmo

Anki Cozmo (Photo : Twitter)

Robots featured in Hollywood movies such as the "Terminator" series and "Elysium" show how the machines could function in an apocalyptic world. Automation is also becoming more important in modern life and developed for commercial products such as self-driving cars. Cozmo is, meanwhile, a tiny robot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that functions as a fun toy and mechanical pet.

Like Us on Facebook

San Francisco-based Anki built Cozmo. The Bay Area company will start shipping the $180 "WALL-E"-like robot on October 16, Sunday.

Many tech companies are using AI to build futuristic products. They include Apple's voice assistant Siri, Amazon's smart speaker Echo, and Google's autonomous vehicles (AVs). Anki's goal is to use AI bots to change people's lives in big ways.

Cozmo's target market is young kids and early teens. Its maker is a Carnegie Mellon robotics' company that first developed smartphone-operated toy cars that speed around a track with built-in circuits, according to The Verge.

The Pittsburg University's company has used its software and hardware astuteness to build the toy robot that was introduced in June. It learned a lot developing toy cars.       

Cozmo also uses AI to learn over time. The bot's small size, bright LED eyes and loud voice remind movie fans of "Star Wars" droids like R2-D2.

Cozmo's eyes show different feelings including happy, sad, or angry. A small camera below the eyes uses AI to recognize people and its environment.          

The android rolls around on small tank treads like Johnny 5 in the 1986 film "Short Circuit." It also has one arm that can be swapped out in the future for other accessories.

Cozmo's setup is not difficult. The steps include putting it on its charger, installing a mobile app, and connecting its Wi-Fi network.

After the palm-sized robot is connected, it rolls off its charger and starts to explore the world around it. It shouts "whoa!" as it moves around, complains "aww" when it rolls up to an obstacle, and says "ow!" after falling off high places like coffee tables.     

Cozmo owners use a mobile app to power the small machine. The application's home screen shows the installed apps, daily goals, as well as "bits" and "sparks." Bits unlock extra apps and upgrades, while sparks unlock new tricks.  

In related news, the Socially Aware Robot Assistant (SARA) is a virtual assistant that uses AI to detect social signals, according to Popular Science. The digital assistant uses cameras and a microphone to listen to questions and pick up a person's feelings such as through smiles or frowns.