Pollen Robotics' open-source system is the cutest robot with an actual purpose. The French company debuted its bot, Reachy, at CES Unveiled, where it quickly amassed a crowd of onlookers to watch it play a game of Tic Tac Toe. That's not all it's good for though. Its creators say the robot can be used for research and development or public service, or one day, even find a home in the medical space.
Legs are hard — You'll notice that Reachy is just a torso propped up on a wheeled stand. But, according to co-founder Dr. Pierre Rouanet, the project actually started with the legs. As it turns out, though, bipedalism isn't all that easy to achieve (at least, not if you don't want it to be terrifying). So the team went back and started over, from the top-down.
A lot of applications — Reachy's relatively simple demonstration is a glimpse into more useful tasks it might be able to take on, depending on its programming. It can grip small objects (up to 500g) and maneuver its arms nimbly in a small space, achieving roughly the same movements of the human arm with seven degrees of freedom.
And, it's cute as hell. The head is capable of multi-directional movement and simple Pixar-esque emotional responses thanks to animations developed by Orbita. I wouldn't hate having this thing greet me at say, a hotel lobby.
It's not cheap, though — Reachy is currently in the pre-launch stage and is gearing up for its public release. The system is modular, so its price varies widely; the most basic iteration starts at $9,000 and the many different add-ons (five-finger hands, claw-grips, etc) can put you at upwards of $17,000. And, at the moment, Reachy bots are extremely limited in supply.