Anki has been developing artificial intelligence toys for years, beginning with Anki Overdrive race cars and the interactive Cozmo robot, but in 2018 it released its most ambitious offering: Vector.
Vector is not a toy, unlike Cozmo, and instead is positioned as a home robotic unit. Vector takes on the capabilities of Cozmo, but its versatility goes above and beyond the tricks and games that Cozmo is known for.Buy on Amazon
Design and Features
Vector is a palm-sized robot that uses the same general design as Cozmo. It is made of black plastic material and has a body that is packed with numerous sensors and electronics to detect and respond to the surrounding environment.
Vector has four wheels wrapped in tank-style treads to allow him to navigate smooth floors and rugs both, a movable front arm that lets him connect with his cube and adds to his different gestures.
Most of Vector’s personality is conveyed by his little front display, which is always on and where his eyes are found. The monitor lets Vector reveal various feelings, and the animated eyes are always turning and changing, smiling, closing as he thinks, worried when he sees the edge of the table, wide open when he looks at you, and slit when he’s sleeping.
The display also varies when Vector asks a question and is used for things like delivering weather conditions or indicating the time when certain questions are being asked of Vector. Vector’s head part moves independently of his body, helping him to change what he’s looking at, giving him a sense of seeing objects.
There are a lot of sensors and electronics in Vector that allow him to experience the world around him. Vector uses an HD camera to see what’s behind him and to hear, there’s a four-microphone setup.
Sensors and an accelerometer let him know whether he’s touched or picked up while a processor helps him compute. Vector has a speaker and Anki has programmed him with hundreds of synthesized, robotic sounds so that he can respond to you and communicate with you.
Vector mostly interacts through beeps, boops, and other robotic sounds, but he does have a text-to-speech capability so he can tell your name and provide voice responses to your questions.
Vector is an autonomous robot, so you can’t control him. There is a Vector app for keeping tabs on him though and learning about all of his behaviors, but there are no controls in the Vector app.
Vector was originally launched without Alexa in tow, but Anki eventually decided to give it an update. So now when you say “Hey Alexa,” Vector’s face starts changing. Gone are the cartoon eyes, and a square blue halo appears, a twist on the blue circle that lights up on Amazon Echo and Echo Dot’s to let a user know the smart assistant is listening. Vector will also respond to Alexa’s voice in a robotic version, not the normal chirps and beeps that the robot uses to communicate.
Should You Buy an Anki Vector Robot?
Vector is essentially the new iteration of the virtual pet Tamagotchi. He’s going to make you chuckle, ask for your love, and just make you feel less alone when you’re at home by yourself. Even if you seldom use it as a typical Alexa speaker, Vector’s companionship would be enough to give it a permanent place on your desk or counter.
But with a $250 price tag, Anki’s smartest robot is also the most expensive, costing $70 more than the limited edition Interstellar Blue version of the original Cozmo. Of course, Vector will do a lot more than his older sibling, and the addition of Alexa significantly extends its capabilities. It’s not smart enough to totally replace the Echo Dot or Google Home Mini, but you won’t forget it’s in the room either. And with the array of technology inside, the possibilities are truly limitless if Anki remains committed to Vector’s growth.