Holiday Robot-Buying Guide

It hasn't been the automaton season I'd hoped for, but here's how to fulfill your robot.

Welcome to my first annual Consumer Robot Buying Guide! Were living in the golden age of robotics, which means the choices are...Wait. I cant do it. Not without setting the record straight.

Were supposed to be living in the golden age of robotics and for some sectors—medicine, industrial automation, warfare—we are. Consumer robotics is another matter. That part of the market has stalled, and I dont know what it will take to get it going again.

Wow Wees Robosapien and Roboraptor and iRobots Roomba should have been the sparks that ignited the industry. Instead, the lit fuse has been snuffed out. Wow Wees newest Roboreptile is entertaining, but it has done little to move the industry forward. Meanwhile, the excitement surrounding iRobots Roomba has dimmed, and the Scooba floor mop has not been a Roomba-like hit. Worse yet, instead of more companies flooding into the consumer robot space, there seem to be fewer. Sony dismantled its consumer robots division and killed off the AIBO and the Qrio, and Radio Shack dumped the Vex robot kit.

Its not as if there isnt robotics development going on all over the world. Japan is a hotbed of humanoid robot development. Yet, almost none of these bots are intended for the home or priced so that a consumer could afford them (without selling their home).

Thats the painful truth.

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