Where are all the personal robots we were promised?

These 15 robots may demonstrate that the concept is viable.
Christopher McFadden
3D rendering humanoid robot handshake.
3D rendering humanoid robot handshake.


  • Personal robots have been a common trope in sci-fi for many decades.
  • Their apparent plausibility has made many sci-fi enthusiasts wonder when they may become a reality.
  • Some robots with personal robot-like features have been developed, but are they personal robots?

Would you like a robot to assist you in the house? Perhaps another for personal security? Well, you can't help but notice that there appears to be a complete lack of them.

That being said, various personal robots already exist. However, most of these are far off the mark compared to the kind of personal robots we have been promised by various science fiction franchises like "Rosey" from "The Jetsons," "Bubo" from "Clash of the Titans," the robots in "I, Robot," or genetically engineered "replicants" like those in "Bladerunner."

Do we currently possess anything resembling those? And if not, when will we get the real things?

But first, let's make it clear what we're referring to.

What is a personal robot?

A personal robot is one with some kind of human interface and is also helpful for the general public. They contrast with other robots, like industrial ones, that are often programmed and run by robotics experts and resemble machines more than people.

Personal robots can provide a range of tasks, including letting people automate tedious or repetitive tasks at home or at work, which increases productivity or can be used simply for pleasure.

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
When will we get real personal robots?

The shift from industrial robotics to personal robotics is altering productivity in both the home and workplace, much like how the switch from mainframe computers to personal computers transformed individual productivity.

The ability to quickly program a personal robot is mainly needed to turn a robot like ASIMO or Atlas into a personal robot or artificial helper that the general population can use. For this to be possible, there need to be considerable improvements in motion planning, computer vision (especially scene recognition), natural language processing, and automated reasoning.

What do personal robots do?

In short, it depends on the purpose of the personal robot.

Since 1998, for example, robotic toys have gained popularity, including the well-known Furby. Various small remote-controlled humanoid robots have also been available for some time. Robotic animals, like dogs, have also been developed as companions for children and adults. Numerous university science and robotics departments have also developed them for events like the RoboCup.

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
Some personal robots do already exist.

The Furby was a primary example of this. The toy robot gave the impression that it was a living creature that required care and attention, much like a pet.

Robotic dogs are only one example of the many animal-themed toy robots available. Phone-powered robots are another category of robotic toys. With these toys, you can use an app to link with your phone and remotely control the toy.

Can these be categorized as personal robots? Yes and no. They meet the basic criteria. But, they do not often qualify as a "real" example of a personal robot.

We are promised that some even more advanced ones are on the way. Personal robots, for instance, are being developed to improve upon adult companionship. These robots, sometimes known as "social robots," are frequently made to assist the elderly and disabled with modest household tasks while keeping them company.

One prime example is a home humanoid robot named Wakamaru that was created in Japan. Wakamaru can be programmed to remind people to take their medications and even call a doctor when it seems like someone is in distress.

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
Real personal robots could be with us very soon.

Another, called "Paro," is a robotic baby seal designed to calm patients in nursing homes.

Home telepresence robots allow for communication between individuals remotely using a camera, speaker, and microphone. The user can visit and explore a distant site using other remote-controlled telepresence robots as if they were in person.

Think "Avatar" but without the giant blue clones of aliens.

These robots can be used for many different purposes, like letting doctors check on patients from afar or letting students who can't leave their homes because of illness, injury, or other physical problems attend school. Robots in the Kuri, JIBO, and ConnectR families all have telepresence capabilities.

Robots are also available for just amusing activities. Built in 2012, Tokyo’s Robot Restaurant featured human performers, robotic dinosaurs, and other robots in a 90-minute cabaret. More recently, a 60-foot-tall robot inspired by the Gundam science fiction series was unveiled in Japan. The robot can walk and features a dramatic sound and light show.

Another use for personal robots is therapy. Examples of these services include physical therapy and autism treatment.

These robots can assist children with autism in their intellectual development as well as with their communication challenges. They can also assist those who are having physical issues with their limbs or muscles.

Do personal robots exist?

We've already touched on a few above, but many other exciting examples exist. These are some more advanced and notable examples, but we'll let you decide if you would really classify them as "true" personal robots.

Most Popular

1. Robear is a very cuddly robot

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
  • Status: In development
  • Cost (if applicable): Not yet for sale, but estimated to be between $168,000 and $252,000

Robear is a cutting-edge teddy bear made for transferring elderly patients from beds to wheelchairs.

Robear is the brainchild of Toshiharu Mukai, leader of the Robot Sensor Systems Research Team at RIKEN. It was the team's third robot bear. However, RIKEN is no longer working on this project. Currently, Dr. Mukai works Meijo University.

2. There is a hotel in Japan staffed almost entirely by robots

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
This hotel is staffed by robots.
  • Status: In use
  • Cost (if applicable): Not for sale, or price not disclosed

To reduce labor expenses and increase entertainment value, around 90 percent of the staff at the 'Strange Hotel' in southwestern Japan are autonomous robots, a total of around 186 machines.

The Henn na Hotel, as it is known in Japanese, featured robot demonstrations. One of the features that was exhibited was the use of facial recognition in place of e-keys during check-in.

3. Sophia might be the most famous existing personal robot

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
Sophia speaking at the AI for GOOD Global Summit.

Sophia is a conversational robot that resembles a human being in appearance. This robot has appeared in several high-profile interviews and appearances including a spot on the Jimmy Fallon show.

Sophia is also unique in that Saudi Arabia has granted her official citizenship and she has been given the title of "Innovation Champion" by the UN.

It is learning and can respond to a wide range of queries. While a little spooky, she could be the first of many in years.

4. ASIMO is something of a personal robot veteran now

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?

Honda has been working on ASIMO, a humanoid robot, for over a decade. It has hand dexterity, and can dash, hop, jump, sprint backward, and go up and down stairs.

Additionally, ASIMO can recognize the voices and faces of numerous speakers and can predict your next move with accuracy.

5. MOFLIN is like a real tribble

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
  • Status: Not yet commercially available
  • Cost (if applicable): About $350 per unit and up in early pre-order

The similarity between MOFLIN and tribbles will bring a smile to any Star Trek fan. But this "AI pet robot" is more than just a tribute to this classic sci-fi series.

This tiny pet was created by Vanguard Industries Inc. and has emotional abilities that can genuinely change over time like "real" animals. According to its makers, MOFLIN is so gorgeous and covered in velvety fur that it will quickly melt your heart. It also makes adorable noises.

6. Moxie is a cute little robot that helps children learn

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
  • Status: Commercially available
  • Cost (if applicable): About $999 per unit plus subscription service fees

First debuted at CES in 2021, Moxie, created by Embodied, Inc., is another interesting personal robot. This diminutive animated device, referred to as a companion, "helps develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills through engaging content created in collaboration with child development and education experts" and "everyday play-based learning," according to its creators.

Moxie was created by child development, engineering, video game design, and entertainment professionals. This educational toy can recognize, understand, and reply to natural language. It can also recognize your child's eye contact, facial expressions, and other behaviors.

Embodied asserts that Moxie can recognize and remember individuals, locations, and things. Freaky!

7. Meet the JetBot 90 AI+ Cleaner from Samsung

People are investing more time and effort in improving and maintaining their homes as they spend more time at home. In response, Samsung has developed a new personal robot, designed to compete with the Roomba, that helps to speed up and simplify house maintenance.

The JetBot 90 AI+ is the first intelligent robotic vacuum powered by Intel® AI and was designed to give your home a spotless shine with the least effort. According to Samsung, it moves through your house like you do use state-of-the-art object detection technology, avoiding everything from cables to large pieces of furniture without missing any openings.

No dirt is safe, says Samsung, when the JetBot 90 AI+ is on the job thanks to its ability to discern distances up to nearly 20 feet away, rotate 360 degrees, and access difficult-to-reach places.

The JetBot 90 AI+ equipped with a potent 3D sensor can see and identify things in its field of view to choose which ones to avoid and which to clean.

8. Samsung has also developed a robot that does your housework

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
The Handy Bot could be the only domestic robot you ever need
  • Status: Under development
  • Cost (if applicable): Not yet disclosed

Meet what may become your first true domestic robot, the Samsung Bot Handy. Developed as part of Samsung's next AI initiatives, this robot truly is a vision of the future.

The Samsung Bot Handy is a mobile robot that can identify objects in the home and assist with a range of household tasks. It was unveiled at CES in 2021, where it was demonstrated that, with learning, it could pick up a single object.

The Samsung Bot Handy's three essential features—Dexterous Manipulation through robot arm/hand and control, General Object Handling through a mix of AI and grasping, and Extended Workspace in 3D space through mobility and elevation—could help you complete household tasks in less time.

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
Concept art of the robot helping around the home.

The Samsung Bot Handy can also handle other tasks around the house, like tidying up cluttered rooms or putting the dishes away after a meal, allowing you to concentrate on your more important tasks.

9. These robots can help feed people who cannot feed themselves

  • Status: Under development
  • Cost (if applicable): Not yet disclosed

Tapomayukh Bhattacharjee, a scientist at Cornell University, and his team are working on creating a robotic arm to assist in feeding people who have spinal injuries.

Bhattacharjee thinks that robotic assistance in eating is one of the critical areas where robots have the potential to revolutionize care in the future.

The National Robotics Initiative of the National Science Foundation has awarded the roboticist a four-year, $1.5 million grant to assist him and his EmPRISE Lab in creating caregiving robotics solutions for people with physical limitations.

"Feeding is one of the most basic activities," Bhattacharjee said. "Imagine asking someone else to feed you every morsel of food in your daily life. It just completely takes away the sense of independence."

"And so, if we could solve this feeding challenge," he continued, "if a person could perceive this robot as an extension of their own body, then they will feel much more independent. That's why I am so passionate about solving this."

10. Gita can actually carry your groceries home for you

  • Status: Commercially available
  • Cost (if applicable): Between $1,850 and $3,250 for the smaller and larger version, respectively

Piaggio Fast Forward, a startup in the Boston region and a division of Piaggio, created the two-wheeled, cargo-carrying robot vehicle known as Gita. In February 2017, the first Gita prototypes were released, and the end of November 2019 saw the release of Gita for sale on the American market.

Gita can carry up to 40 pounds of stuff and is made to follow a person around. The gadget can perform some chores on its own, like parking itself, although it was initially attached to the user by a wearing belt. Later iterations did away with the belt and included more advanced navigational features.

Pretty neat.

11. Ubtech Robotics’ Cruzr hugs you and talks to you

Ubtech's Cruzr is a humanoid, intelligent, and autonomous service robot. To ensure smooth movement through its environment, it is equipped with a wide range of sensors (Lidar, sonar, infrared, depth-perception camera, etc.). Cruzr has omnidirectional wheels, a total of 13 degrees of freedom from head to waist, and is not a biped.

This robot can engage with people it encounters by shaking hands, saying hello to strangers, dancing, giving hugs, and more.

Cruzr can be customized and includes facial recognition, emotional expression, voice, active interaction, and voice and action interaction.

With the aid of the U-SLAM technology it created, Ubitech can also pinpoint its location and map its surroundings to efficiently direct partners and clients.

12. "Pepper" appears to have been mothballed

Where are all the personal robots we were promised?
  • Status: Currently paused
  • Cost (if applicable): Not currently for sale

SoftBank Robotics (formerly Aldebaran Robotics) is behind the iconic personal robot "Pepper." A semi-humanoid robot with the capacity to perceive emotions, it was unveiled during a conference on June 5, 2014.

It was on display on June 6th, 2014 in SoftBank Mobile phone stores in Japan. Pepper can identify emotions based on the detection and analysis of facial expressions and voice tones.

On June 5, 2014, Masayoshi Son, the founder of SoftBank, unveiled Pepper in Tokyo. In December 2015, Pepper was supposed to be accessible at SoftBank Mobile locations.

The initial 1,000 units of "Pepper," which went on sale in June 2015, were all sold out in less than 60 seconds. In 2016, Pepper made its debut in the UK. 12,000 Pepper robots had been sold in Europe as of May 2018.

According to reports, SoftBank would stop making "Pepper" in June 2021 due to a lack of demand. An estimated 27,000 units had been produced at the time.

13. "NAO" can speak several languages

  • Status: Commercially available
  • Cost (if applicable): About $7,990 for the version available to the general public

NAO, a self-driving, programmable humanoid robot, was the first robot developed by SoftBank Robotics.

In 2007, Sony's robot dog Aibo was replaced with the Nao as the robot used in the RoboCup Standard Platform League (SPL), an international robot soccer competition. The NAO was used in the RoboCup 2008 and 2009, and the NaoV3R was selected as the platform for the SPL at RoboCup 2010.

Since 2008, various iterations of the robot have also been made available for use in research and education, and the Nao Academics Edition was developed for universities and labs. It was made available to the general public in 2011 after being provided to institutions in 2008.

Since then, the Nao platform has had several improvements, including the 2011 Nao Next Gen and the 2014 Nao Evolution.

In many academic institutions worldwide, NAO robots have been employed for research and instruction. More than 5,000 Nao units were used in more than 50 countries.

14. "Moley" is your personal professional chef at home

If you ever wanted your professional chef at home, and don't mind spending a lot, then the "Moley" might just be the ticket. The first Moley Kitchen line has two general variations: X-kitchen and R-kitchen.

Built-in partnership with Universal Robots and SCHUNK, a German robotics company, Moley's R-kitchen features two robotic arms and five-finger hands with tactile sensors.

Most kitchen appliances, including blenders, whisks, and the stove, can be picked up and used by the highly sophisticated "hands" of the robot.

In addition to the primary cooking space, X-kitchen is an IoT cooking platform outfitted with a smart fridge and storage. For the installation of future robotic modules, it has a supporting structure already in place. On the client's desire, X-kitchen can be transformed into an entirely robotic R-kitchen model.

Moley Robotic Kitchen reduces the risk of contamination by allowing for minimal human touch during food preparation and integrating safe UV disinfection of the worktop and the air in the cooking area.

With a built-in 3D camera and wired glove, Moley Robotics records a human chef's work and uploads it to a database.

Using algorithms for gesture recognition developed in partnership with Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University scientists, the chef's actions are converted into digital movements. Later, The Robotic Kitchen recreates the entire flow of events to create a meal from scratch that is precisely the same.

Moley Robotics has also unveiled a recipe developer tool to expand its culinary library with new dishes. A crab bisque recipe developed by renowned chef Tim Anderson, who also happens to be a restaurateur and the author of multiple cookbooks, was taught to Moley Robotic Kitchen as its debut recipe.

The culinary library of Moley Robotics features dishes created by renowned chefs such as Tim Anderson, James Taylor, Andrew Clarke, Toni Tovanen, Ivan and Sergei Berezutskiy, and Nicole Pisani.

In its current form, the kitchen is controlled by a built-in touchscreen or smartphone app, and all of the items are prepared in preparation and placed in predetermined spots. According to Moley Robotics, users will soon have access to a library of more than 5,000 recorded recipes.

15. The Amazon "Astro" might be the only personal robot you need right now

  • Status: Commercially available
  • Cost (if applicable): About $999 in early access, currently by invitation only

After introducing you to the intelligent voice assistant Alexa, Amazon moved on to the following enormous thing: a robotic assistant that can watch over the house while you're away, act as an intelligent display, a roving security guard, a toy for children, and as an errand-bot.

"Astro," is said to combine advances in "artificial intelligence, computer vision, sensor technology, and voice and edge computing."

While you are away, "Astro" acts as your eyes and ears. It is intelligent enough to react to specific triggers like a fire alarm or the sound of glass breaking and send a notice to your phone to notify you.

It can also provide reminders and allow you to virtually visit and check on your loved ones with a video call. You can even ask "Astro" to search the pantry while shopping for the ingredients you need to prepare dinner. Additionally, it may keep watch over your home while you vacation.

The robot is also a more physically visible embodiment of Alexa, and can make calls and perform other tasks for you on command.

Like robotic vacuum cleaners, one of the robot's first tasks is to map your home, including figuring out where obstacles like furniture are located, and even if you have pets. It is also designed to determine your habits and calculate "safe zones" of operation at certain times of the day.

Astro won't enter areas of the home designated as "out-of-bounds," and they are defined, according to Amazon, after they are designated as "out-of-bounds" zones. While this all sounds great, the robot does apparently have some issues.

And that, personal robot anticipators, is your lot for today.

While some personal robots are currently available, most tend to be anticlimactic for anyone whose been waiting for "real" ones for years, even decades. The sophistication and capabilities of each new generation are clearly accelerating to a point where Jetsons-like personal robots could soon become a reality.

If you've waited this long, what's a few more years?

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