THE future promised by The Jetsons might be just months away after personal transport company Segway today revealed a robotic butler that can follow you around and carry your groceries.
The Ninebot and Segway creation can be ridden around like an undersized personal transporter, and turned into a robot when you step off its platform.
Its head emerges from its central handle and is a rectangular shape, just like that of Rosie, the robot maid in futuristic 1960s cartoon The Jetsons.
Behind its animated, blinking eyes, the Segway Personal Robot Project hides five cameras and one laser projector for tracking its master and capturing high-resolution photos and video on demand.
It is also equipped with arms that could be used to help its human companions, according to Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich, who introduced the innovation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
“The use cases for these devices are massive,” Mr Krzanich said.
“On the consumer side, you can think of the elderly — you want to go to the store but you want it to bring your groceries home, you’re handicapped and you’re at home and you want someone to answer the door or just help you. These things are going to help those people.”
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The diminutive robot is capable of a top speed of 18km/hour using two 800-watt motors, and could travel for up to 30km per charge.
Ninebot robotics vice-president Li Pu said humans could also issue voice commands to their “new robotic friend” such as “Hey Segway, follow me”.
It could also be used to control other internet-connected devices including airconditioners, televisions, lighting, and security cameras.
Ninebot president and co-founder Wang Ye said the Segway robotic butler had lofty goals for the electronic servants, which it would bring to market in addition to Segway’s well-known personal transport devices.
“With this announcement, we target to bring affordable and personal robot to every home in the near future,” he said.
“We expect in the next 10 years we’ll have people at home, at restaurants, at hotels served (by robots).”
A development program for the robotic butler, which uses Google Android software and Intel RealSense technology, will begin in the second half of the year, followed by real-world user testing in the final quarter of 2016.
The company will also release a small personal transport device, the Mini Pro Segway, through American web store Amazon next month, after its Asian release saw more than 100,000 sold in just two months.