Microsoft Moab is a cute robot that can learn how to balance balls and eggs

Until the metaverse buzz came along, a lot of the hype was placed on AI and machine learning. The way this technology was portrayed makes it almost like a magic sauce that made anything and everything smarter. Reality couldn’t be more different, though, especially for developers trying to learn the ropes of the different technologies involved in AI. Microsoft set out to make the learning process easier and, curiously enough, ended up with an interesting robot that tries to learn one of the oldest tricks in the book: balancing a ball.

Designers: Microsoft with Fresh Consulting

At first glance, Microsoft Moab doesn’t look like your typical robot. It doesn’t even look like a typical machine aimed at developers. It looks more like a cross between a robot vacuum cleaner and a weighing scale with a glass platform held up by three legs. When it does its thing, however, it resembles a creature lying on its back and flailing its legs to keep a small ball from falling off.

Learning how to balance a ball sounds so trivial, and that’s exactly the point with things like AI and machine learning. Things that we take for granted as humans aren’t exactly intuitive for machines. Adding another layer of complexity is how humans need to learn how to teach these machines to learn, which is what this Moab robot tries to offer in a non-intimidating way.

In a nutshell, Moab uses a camera to see the ball or any rolling object placed on top of its plate and then tries to move the plate until the object becomes stationary. After mastering that, developers can move on to giving Moab “obstacles” to overcome by poking the ball, for example, or using an object that’s not completely spherical like an egg. Moab doesn’t learn all of these automatically, though, and developers learn the ropes of machine learning, including things like visualizing their data in simulations before transferring that to the robot.

What makes Project Moab rather unique is that it was created as a product from beginning to end. Unlike what would usually be characterized as a DIY project or a hack, Moab’s form, the materials used in manufacturing the robot, and even the packaging were made with a commercial product in mind, and it might even be available for purchase in the near future.

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This flying donut is probably one of the safest drones around

Who knew that ditching half the fans would actually yield in what seems to be a more stable and safer drone, which is exactly what this odd-looking drone is promising.

Drones are no longer things immediately associated with the military and warfare. Thanks to companies like DJI, commercial drones have gone mainstream and have become familiar to many people in different walks of life. Despite differences in design, almost all drones share the same four-rotor system that gives them their technical name of “quadcopter.” This isn’t the only possible design, however, and a different kind of drone is trying to sell the idea of having only two fans instead of four.

Designer: Cleo Robotics

Quadcopter drones have four rotors not just to look cool or even intimidating. Up until now, it’s the commonly accepted solution to creating stability and movement in mid-air. As many drone users know by now, this design isn’t exactly the easiest to control, nor are they the safest to handle. Even those with protectors around them can suffer a serious setback when they bump into something or, worse, someone.

Cleo Robotics’ solution is to halve the number of rotors to two placed on top of each other. This bi-rotor design creates opposing forces that create the same stability that would normally require four rotors. More importantly, this compact design allows the rotors to be completely enclosed in what looks like one tough donut. Naturally, they just had to name this the “Dronut.”

This potentially makes the Dronut X1, the first in this line of bi-rotor drones, safer not just for people around the drone but for the drone itself. It can bump into things and into people without doing serious damage. It’s also small enough to fit on a person’s hand, albeit a person with very big hands. It can even be easily be operated using a smartphone, though you’d probably want to connect a gamepad for better results.

The Cleo Dronut X1 looks like a fun device, but its $9,800 price tag clearly indicates it isn’t a toy. It comes equipped with a 4K camera, LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) for positioning, and LED lights for seeing in the dark. The drone is aimed more at industrial and even military applications, especially for use in space-constrained places where a traditional quadcopter drone wouldn’t even fit. If this idea takes off, however, we could be seeing more of these flying donuts available for less serious uses.

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This AI robotic arm supports modular attachments that can 3D print, laser-etch, draw, and even assemble

Reminiscent of those modular robotic arms you see in megafactories that do everything from assembling iPhones to putting cars together, the HUENIT scales that tech down, bringing it into the household.

HUENIT is an AI camera and modular robotic arm that can practically be your everyday sidekick. It supports a screen and camera that can recognize objects, people as well as their voices. It also has a modular attachment system that lets you connect HUENIT’s different modules allowing this robot arm to perform activities like picking objects up, sketching, 3D printing, and laser engraving, and way more. Think of it as your own personal J.A.R.V.I.S. , sir!

Designer: Woojin Ha

Click Here to Buy Now: $879 $1699 (48% off). Hurry, exclusive deal for YD readers only! Raised over $700,000.

A modular robot arm designed to utilize AI, 3D, laser, and robotics easily and quickly.

HUENIT’s capabilities are frankly limited only to your imagination. The tiny robotic arm can fit on any tabletop surface and can carry payloads of up to 750 grams, reach distances of 390mm, rotate up to 200°, and even repeat tasks with an accuracy of 0.05mm, at speeds of up to 550mm per second. The arm supports 3 hinge points (just like a human arm that pivots at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist) and can be programmed to complete a wide variety of tasks based on the modules you attach onto it, using a touch-sensitive remote controller or even HUENIT’s own software that supports block coding, Python, and Arduino C.

While the robot’s flexible arm gives it a great degree of range, it’s the wide variety of modules that unlock its true potential. The robotic arm sports a proprietary connector setup that lets you add HUENIT’s modules to the arm.

A 3D printing module lets you easily print onto any surface, with the HUENIT arm automatically leveling the extruder at the start of the job.

A laser engraving module comes with a 2500W laser that can engrave and/or cut a wide range of materials, from wood to fabric, leather, paper, and even anodized aluminum.

For sketching purposes, a pen-holder arm turns the HUENIT into a drawing-master, allowing it to draw or write art on any surface — HUENIT’s ability to repeat tasks is incredibly useful for creating multiple copies of the same artwork.

Other modules also include a suction module, a soft gripper, and a versatile creator module that lets you use your HUENIT to do anything from holding your phone and taking stabilized videos, to even stirring your pot of pasta!

While the robotic arm works independently, you also have the option of attaching an addon AI camera that can recognize people as well as objects, helping unlock even more features (like sorting coins or LEGO blocks). The AI camera comes along with a screen that serves as HUENIT’s ’emotion center’, with a set of cartoonish eyes that help anthropomorphize your robot buddy.

The 4-axis robotic arm runs on a 24V DC power supply and has its own SD card and USB-C input while also supporting connections via WiFi and Bluetooth. HUENIT is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Chromebook devices, and is perfect for creators, tinkerers, engineers, and anyone curious about robotics. You can grab the HUENIT’s basic tier, with just the creator module for $649, or the entire kit featuring all the modules along with the AI camera for $879. HUENIT ships worldwide, and your friendly robotic arm should ideally be in your home/office by July 2022.

Click Here to Buy Now: $879 $1699 (48% off). Hurry, exclusive deal for YD readers only! Raised over $700,000.

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The world’s first Sea-Air Integrated Drone blazes a new path towards oceanic sustainability and carbon neutrality

The Sea-Air Integrated Drone is the first drone of its kind to be able to fly in the air and swim underwater to perform various and complex tasks, leading a new path toward sustainable ocean economies and carbon neutrality.

Underwater robotics firm QYSEA recently teamed up with Japanese telecommunications operator KDDI to develop the world’s first sea-air integrated, remote-control-operated drone, which was constructed by the commercial drone manufacturer PRODRONE. The Sea-Air Integrated Drone was first unveiled during a flight showcase at the Hakkeijima Sea Paradise in Yokohama. With sights set on modernizing “offshore and marine operations with its intelligent capabilities, high working efficiency, and minimized manpower required,” the drone will be the first of its kind to fly in the air and swim underwater.

Designers: QYSEA, KDDI, and PRODRONE

Known for an impressive catalog of underwater robotics and marine technology, QYSEA implemented the use of their industrial-class FIFISH PRO V6 PLUS ROV into the build of the heavy-duty aerial drone. Six years prior to its conception, KDDI first began “[combining] advanced mobile communication networks with drone technologies that would deliver extended flying distances and lengths.” Since then, KDDI and QYSEA have worked together to develop seamless drone operations between air and sea.

Defined by KDDI’s long-range mobile communication technology, operators can control the drone via remote from long distance ranges, whether the drone has submerged underwater or taken flight. Once the drone has landed in its designated location, the FIFISH ROV detaches and deploys to get to work, allowing the operator to remotely control the drone with the ROV from a safe distance. Describing the drone’s remote-controlled operations, the team at QYSEA notes,

“Without the need to leave their onshore working location, the operator can deliver inspections with real-time visual feedback and operate through underwater environments with a variety of sampling, measurement, and manipulation tools, as well as be able to live-stream operations for multi-person collaborations.”

In addition to the variety of operations the drone can manage, the Sea-Air Integrated Drone has shown its competency across additional marine-based industries. In offshore wind power plants, the drone can perform complex maintenance tasks.

In the world of aquaculture, the Sea-Air Integrated Drone can fly out to monitor livestock and crops, in addition to regular maintenance tasks. With further information to be released in early 2022, the Sea-Air Integrated Drone is sure to lead a new path toward the development of a sustainable ocean economy and the global goal of carbon neutrality.

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Hyundai envisions Boston Dynamic’s Spot as your ambassador to Mars in the metaverse

The metaverse will supposedly let us be anywhere we want, and all we need is a robot proxy to explore other planets.

The term “metaverse” has been around long before Facebook’s dramatic rebranding, but its popularity definitely spiked in the past few months thanks to that. The idea of moving around in virtual space and interacting with other people half a world away is as old as the Internet and science fiction, but the possibility of seamlessly blending the real and the digital has only been possible these past years. Now companies are scrambling to get on the metaverse bandwagon, and Hyundai’s ideas include using Spot to be your stand-in for places you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach.

Designer: Hyundai

Spot is one of the most popular robots in mainstream news and possibly also one of the most infamous. Built to be less horrifying than BigDog, the quadruped robot became Hyundai’s property when the carmaker bought Boston Dynamics. Spot proved to be a hit in the past two years, allowing doctors to safely check up on patients remotely or letting security personnel remind people to practice physical distancing from the safety of a control room.

Hyundai, however, also has another use for Spot, at least in the distant future. In its vision of the metaverse, the robot will act as people’s bodies, eyes, and even hands while exploring places they couldn’t reach. That includes visiting Mars with family and meeting other people who are presumably totally human.

This metaverse version of Spot, however, won’t be like the telepresence robots that are already available today. Spot will be equipped with various sensors that can gather environmental data, like the temperature of a certain object or the strength of a Martian sandstorm. That data can, in turn, be used to let their human controllers feel those exact same events safely on Earth, presuming they’re inside some vehicle or room that can recreate that environment.

Spot is actually just one part of Hyundai’s “metamobility” concept, a concept that includes the things that the company is best known for. Those include self-driving vehicles and other robots that will help humans either go the distance or stay at home while still reaching places. And, of course, Spot will be with humans every step of the way, just like a good robot dog.

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This robotic cat will nibble on your finger in a quirky attempt to reduce your stress

More than just looking cute and heartwarming, these animal plushies will try to calm you down in the oddest way they can.

Given the many sources of stress and worry these days, some people might be dreaming of the simpler days of their childhood. In addition to having very few concerns, infants and toddlers also have behaviors and coping mechanisms that they outgrow in a few years. Some of those gestures, however, work both ways and give comfort even to the adults that experience them. That’s what a Japanese robotics company is trying to offer, thankfully without involving any children or anything resembling them.

Designer: Yuki Engineering

“Play-biting,” as it is called, is a gesture that’s almost universal not just among human babies but also some animals. It has the psychological effect of providing comfort, not just for the one nibbling but also the owner of the finger. Of course, that behavior is unacceptable for adults and is dangerous for grown pets, so Yukai Engineering is using robots to act as proxies for babies.

Called “Amagami Ham Ham,” Japanese words that refer to “soft biting,” the robots are dressed up as cute cats and dogs and almost look like regular stuffed toys. The difference, however, is that the toys activate the moment you put your finger inside their mouth. They suddenly spring to life, or at least their mouths, and start nibbling on your finger to help you release some stress.

It isn’t just a simple, mechanical kind of biting either. Amagami Ham randomly picks one of two dozen variations of “ham” or “biting,” making it almost like an adventure each time you put your finger inside. Those might be too subtle to differentiate one from the other, but the company says they’re meant to replicate the different ways babies and pets nibble fingers or other objects.

There is no word yet on when Amagami Ham Ham will land in the market, but you can almost bet that it will happen eventually. After all, Yukai Engineering did launch the Qoobo robotic pillow with a tail a few years ago, and that was no joke, no matter how ridiculous or eerie it initially looked. Now the company is aiming to use cuddly robots to free humanity from the dilemma of whether they want their finger nibbled or not in order to relax.

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This cabinet on wheels can fetch you things like a loyal canine

There’s finally a robot for the home that’s not just for sucking up dirt on the floor.

Robots are coming, whether we like it or not. They may not be the kind that’s negatively portrayed in movies, at least not yet, but few of them can be considered “friendly,” even in appearance. Today’s robots also seem to stand on two opposite ends of a spectrum, with sophisticated but nightmarish Spots on one end and simplistic but single-purpose Roombas on the other. Few other robots are designed for home use, but a company backed by Roomba maker iRobot and the Amazon Alexa Fund is aiming to change that in the simplest but most useful way possible.

Designer: Labrador Systems

At first glance, this robot looks nothing like the typical robots you see both in homes (on the floor) and in factories. When it isn’t active, it looks more like a tall shelf with an open box compartment. In fact, the faux wooden sides of that compartment, available in Light Maple and Warm Teak colors, seem to be designed to blend with your furniture and masquerade as a simple shelf.

It’s anything but simple, of course, and this shelf on wheels can move around your house on its own at your beck and call. You can tell it to bring you your medicine or the plates for setting the table, or you can tell it to accompany you to the laundry room while it carries the washing load for you. Appropriately, this robot is named the Labrador Retriever.

In some cases, this robot is powered by some of the same technologies that robot vacuum cleaners use to navigate your house. After learning the lay of the land, it uses 3D vision to drive itself to or away from you, avoiding obstacles along its path. It can be controlled manually, through an app, or by voice, specifically through Amazon Alexa. It also has some special tricks of its own, like sliding a specially-designed Labrador-branded tray of food or medicine onto its shelf without any human intervention.

Unlike robot vacuum cleaners, the Labrador Retriever and its smaller sibling, the Labrador Caddie, aren’t just designed to make life easier. In fact, they were primarily envisioned to empower those with physical difficulties or handicaps to be productive and live normal lives. Of course, that means that these robots need to have designs that won’t haunt your dreams, and thankfully, the Labrador Retriever is as inconspicuous as a modern minimalist cabinet, contrary to what its name might suggest.

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This automated wall-climbing robot was designed by Hausbots to streamline home-construction projects

HB1 is an automated wall-climbing robot that was designed to streamline home construction projects.

No matter the size, location, style, or chosen building material–when it comes to constructing houses, it can be a dangerous job. Even with bulky construction vehicles, building homes requires a lot of finesse and attention. As our technological worlds evolve, so do our tools and that includes those used for home construction. Home-building robotics company Hausbots developed an automated, climbing construction robot called HB1 to help get home projects done.

Designed with patent-pending wall climbing technology, HB1 hosts an entirely unique technical system that allows it to scale rough surfaces, overcome obstacles, and safely contribute to home-building. Finished with a payload of 6KG, HB1’s integrated technological system can streamline construction projects such as painting, HD visual inspection, as well as building processes. Hausbots outfitted HB1 42 KG of suction force, which allows the four-wheeled robot to scale vertical surfaces as far as 30m from ground level. HB1 can even climb vertical surfaces that are not totally flat as well, including columns, tanks, and corrugated terrain.

Ensuring HB1 steady movement up and down vertical walls, Hausbots crafted a chassis that creates high-speed airflow that converges with low pressure to generate downforce, allowing it to scale buildings of any size and height. In fact, if builders connect HB1 to a tether from the top of a building’s roof, there is no limit to the robot’s climbing range. For building projects that might call for dangerous jobs, such as painting the eaves of homes or replacing roof shingles, HB1’s built-in robotics serve to speed up the process and ensure a smooth landing.

Designer: Hausbots

HB1 features a four-wheeled build with 42KG suction force.

Featuring a 6KG pay load, HB1 can carry various loads to streamline home projects.

HB1 can climb any radius, including columnar structures.

When tethered to the roof, there is no limit to HB1’s climbing range.

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Meet Eilik, a feisty little AI robot that lives on your desk like a tiny Tamagotchi with a personality

Sure, we’re years away from getting our own JARVIS, but the Eilik is a step in that direction. With a personality that’s less like Stark’s AI and more like Baby Groot, the little robot stands obediently on your desk, letting you interact with it through voice commands and touch. Modeled with an aesthetic that’s highly reminiscent of Eve from Wall-E, the tiny bot responds, reacts, and engages back with you, giving you a little tabletop companion to make your day just a wee bit stress-free.

Designer: Shaw Yeung

Click Here to Buy Now: $109 $149 (27% off). Hurry, only 1268/3000 left! Raised over $650,000.

Instead of being a robot that prides itself on intelligence, efficiency, and accuracy, Eilik highlights an area that most robots often ignore – emotional intelligence. With its emotive personality, Eilik makes sure work never feels boring. Just like a Tamagotchi, the little robot demands attention, scowls when it doesn’t get any, and smiles when you tickle it or pat it on the head. It responds positively to rubs and pats, and gets annoyed when you flick at it. Lift Eilik off the ground and it gets scared of heights, and the best way to pacify it is to either calm it down by rubbing its head, back, or belly, or giving it food – in the form of magnetic little food replicas that attach to its movable arms.

Responds to touch.

Sensitive to quake.

Afraid of heights.

Eilik responds using its hands, head, and a dynamic display for a face. With highly expressive eyes that tell you how it’s feeling, Eilik even makes emotion-appropriate sounds and noises, sort of like an electronic pet that purrs on its own or mimics what you say like a physical Talking Tom. If left alone, Eilik will entertain itself (and you too), although you can even pair two Eiliks together and they’ll play with each other and occasionally even have adorable tussles and toddler-esque fights. Pair multiple Eiliks together and they literally form a tiny army that sings and dances in unison, like your own personal minions. Yes, they even sing Christmas carols!


The importance of Eilik, however, lies beyond its toy-like nature. It isn’t just another AI-powered tabletop pet, but rather, hopes to be the first step towards having real-life robot assistants in the future. Eilik relieves stress the way a pet would, but it also helps with work by acting as an alarm clock, a stopwatch, or a Pomodoro timer, with future updates adding even more functionality to your tabletop bot-buddy.

On the hardware front, Eilik is built with pretty sophisticated internals. The robot uses a proprietary EM3 servo motor that allows the hands to be more flexible and dexterous. In fact, the hands act as controls for the robot’s screen brightness and volume, allowing you to simply adjust them by lifting the hands up or down. A slew of sensors within the robot allows it to detect voices, touch, impact/shock, and even if it’s being elevated, and the robot effectively communicates using its dynamic face unit, speakers, and even a vibration motor that provides haptic feedback similar to an animal reacting to being petted.

Each Eilik comes as a standalone unit that stands at 5.2-inches tall, and ships with a manual, Eilik’s software, as well as a USB-C cord for charging it as well as connecting it to a PC to configure the bot. If your desk’s lacking a little panache and personality, Eilik’s available for a Kickstarter-special price of $99, with the little robo-buddy shipping in April 2022.

Click Here to Buy Now: $109 $149 (27% off). Hurry, only 1378/3000 left! Raised over $600,000.

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Tiny autonomous solar-powered robot roams around on deserts, planting seeds to cultivate greenery

A graduation project from Mazyar Etehadi of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, A’seedbot is a self-operating drone that manually plants seeds across the desert terrain. With an end goal of turning uninhabitable sandy terrain into a lush green landscape, the A’seedbot drives around autonomously through the day, pulling power from the solar panels mounted on its upper surface.

With an undeniably strong Wall-E vibe, the A’seedbot’s prime duty is to help cultivate barren land. Operating autonomously and entirely alone (I’m pretty sure Pixar should make a movie on this), the A’seedbot begins its journey every morning, paddling across the sand with its propeller-style feet that push it forward, while the rear end of the robot helps plant seeds into the soft terrain.

“The robot is equipped with solar panels to charge during the day and navigate its way through the terrain at night, to identify fertile areas, report on them as well as plant seeds based on the data retrieved from its sensors and navigation system”, explains designer Mazyar Etehadi.

What’s so interesting about the A’seedbot is its unique shape, designed as a prime example of ‘Form follows Function’. The robot’s length-wise design can be separated into its 3 parts, ‘Seeing’, ‘Navigating’ and ‘Planting’. Two ultrasound sensors on the front allow the robot to assess the terrain in front of it, while a movable head lets it look in various directions to choose the right path. Once decided, paddle-shaped legs help the A’seedbot push itself forward and even change directions, looking almost like a tiny little seal on land. Lastly, the end of the robot rests against the ground, promptly pushing seeds into the sand wherever the robot deems necessary. Its internal processing unit helps the robot understand terrain, decide the locations to plant seeds, and monitor them every few days, while the solar panels on the top help the robot sense how harsh the sun is… while conveniently also providing it with power, that gets stored in the A’seedbot’s internal battery. Deploy enough of these robots and they could potentially help cultivate parts of a desert, turning them into oases of greenery!

Designer: Mazyar Etehadi

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