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BeatBots Releasing $40 'My Keepon' Robot Toy

Keepon, everyone's favorite yellow squishbot and arguably the world's best robot dancer, is going to be available for $40

2 min read
BeatBots Releasing $40 'My Keepon' Robot Toy

We’ve been waiting for this moment for literally three years now. Keepon, everyone’s favorite yellow squishbot and arguably the world’s best robot dancer, is going to be available.

For you.

To buy.

For $40.

$40!

BeatBots, maker of the Keepon Pro (the $30,000 research Keepon) has partnered with the UK’s Wow! Stuff (who also made this) to create ‘My Keepon,’ a toy version of the Keepon that we know and love. From the press release:

Wow!’s design experts and robotics engineers, based in their recently-opened Los Angeles office, worked closely with BeatBots to design a toy that captured the essence of the Keepon character while replicating the robot’s most engaging interactive traits. These features include reactivity to touch and an amazing ability to listen to music, detect the beat, and dance in perfect rhythm!

But most importantly, Wow! Stuff and BeatBots are working to ensure that the success of My Keepon will directly support the social welfare goals at the heart of the Keepon story. “A percentage of the pro¿t from each My Keepon will go towards subsidizing and donating BeatBots’ research-grade robots to therapists and researchers,” said Taylor. “We are so proud to make Keepon available to a broader audience, and we will choose retail partners who also feel proud to sell him.”

Michalowski commented, “Our dream is to make Keepon Pro units widely available to researchers and practitioners. Our work with Keepon suggests that the character’s simplicity, combined with a caregiver’s ability to conduct mediated interactions through the robot, can facilitate social engagement in a novel and exciting way. We hope that the toy version of our robot can channel public excitement towards general autism awareness while supporting our distribution of tools and resources to people and organizations around the world working to understand and treat it.”

Sadly, these are all the details that I’ve got for you at the moment. I did talk with Dr. Michalowski a little bit about the toy, and I can say that they’re trying very hard to make sure that the core functionality (and look) that makes Keepon Pro so endearing will be there in the toy version. It’s easy to look at that $40 price point with concern, but I’m optimistic, and it’s also important to remember that commercializing My Keepon is going to help make Keepon Pro cheaper and more available to people who need it, so it’s good news for everyone.

My Keepon is still in the prototype stage, but we’ve been promised one of the first review units when they’re available, which means you’ll get the first look at them too. SWEET!

[ BeatBots ]

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Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

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