Robotics startup Labrador Systems is debuting two new home assistants at CES 2022, both of which promise to actually be useful. Both Caddie and Retriever are assigned very straightforward tasks, namely carrying things around the house.
Labrador’s Retriever (get it?) actually attended CES last year, too, though at the time it was just an unnamed prototype. The robot is essentially a shelf-driving — excuse me, self-driving — shelf. Appearance-wise, it’s more bar cart than side table, with its solid framework and clean white tabletop.
The Retriever’s target audience is anyone who might benefit from having a shelving unit that can move around with them, including the elderly and people with disabilities. They’re large enough to carry around general household objects but not so large that they’ll get in the way too much as you go about your business.
Neither the Caddie nor the Retriever are ready for mainstream audiences just yet; Labrador hopes to start shipping them out by the second half of 2023. In the meantime, other robotics companies might want to take some notes.
Meet the shelves — Retriever and Caddie are both self-driving shelf units. They can both hold 25 pounds and drive themselves around the house via an app or voice commands.
Of the two, Retriever is the higher-tier option. It comes equipped with a self-adjusting height control that automatically lifts and lowers its shelves to different heights; the upper deck has a range of 25 to 38 inches high, while the lower deck can rest anywhere between 11 and 24 inches.
Retriever also has the ability to auto-retrieve specialized Labrador trays and pallets — hence its name. It can be set to auto-retrieve trays (each of which can hold up to 10 pounds) on a set schedule or with a command.
Caddie, meanwhile, is more suited to people who just need things carried around the house. It’s not compatible with the specialized trays, and it rests at a consistent height of 30 inches — about that of a standard table.
All about simplicity — Labrador’s self-driving shelves are taking a fresh approach to accessibility robotics. Rather than trying to do a million things at once, Caddie and Retriever have very straightforward, single-minded tasks. They stand out against the myriad other CES robots by their simplicity.
That’s not to say Retriever and Caddie aren’t ambitious products. Automating even the simplest of tasks can be a nightmare — hence why testing takes so very long. But it’s a practical solution that doesn’t try to bite off more than it can chew. That’s where Labrador’s robots can really succeed.
Caddie and Retriever can be reserved today with a fully-refundable $250 deposit. They’ll cost $5,000 and $8,000 respectively when they’re released for public use; buyers will also have the option to pay $1,500 upfront with a monthly payment of $99 or $149 per month respectively.