LAS VEGAS—There were hundreds of robotics companies at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show here. Dozens of robotics startups from around the world vied for attention and funding in Eureka Park, so which ones deserved more than a glance?

Here are the top 10 that caught our eye with a mix of innovative technology, business savvy, and let’s face it, cool products that could change their respective markets.

The Boxfish ROV was among the standouts at CES 2017.

This New Zealand company showed off its Boxfish ROV (remotely operated vehicle) for underwater research. While there were numerous aerial drones at CES, this small ROV is intended to make exploration and recording of live video more affordable and easier.

A taller design, a larger touchscreen, and custom software could make Hease a strong player in the service robotics market. The robot can also be connected to the cloud for more capabilities. In addition, Hease co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jade Le Maître is among the relatively few women leaders in Eureka Park.

“Hease includes Web-based programming,” said Le Maître. “We are working with Atos and others on vision, autonomous navigation, and payments.”

“We’ll be running tests from after CES to September, and we need more funds to scale up,” she added. “We’re looking for partners.”

 

TwinswHeel hopes to get into the delivery robotics market.

Beetl could relive pet owners of an odious chore.
Beetl will have newer pooper-scooper prototypes soon.

Everyone knows how robots can help us with dirty, dull, or dangerous tasks. Picking up after your dog is certainly one of those chores. Beetl, which shared space with Flash Robotics, is displaying a prototype of its vision-guided robot for picking up and containing dog excrement in biodegradable packaging for composting.

The company expects to have a more advanced prototype and descriptions of its process soon.

AeroVinci's drone is VTOL-capable.
AeroVinci’s UAV is intended to be easy for farmers to use.

The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are intended to provide “a low barrier to entry” and be ready “out of the box,” according to an AeroVinci spokesman.

They will be available to the Dutch agricultural industry as part of a network under a robots-as-a-service (RaaS) model. The EU is currently working on regulations, but AeroVinci expects the roadmap to be complete within a year for rural areas.

The beta version of AeroVinci’s UAV is capable of continuous flight for about 45 minutes.

AeroVinci has also created DroneDock, “a fully self-sustaining drone docking station that allows drones to land, recharge, process data, and transmit information to end users autonomously, with no human interaction required.”

Starship makes a delivery at the Robotics Conference at CES 2017.
Starship’s robot makes a delivery onstage at the Robotics Conference.

Unlike most startups in Eureka Park, Starship Technologies’ ground-based delivery robots are already in operation in nearly 60 cities worldwide.

Not only does Starship’s remote-controlled robot help solve the so-called last-mile problem, but it also has a three-mile range and can securely convey everything from books to food—without the regulatory concerns facing UAV deliveries.

Starship founder and CEO Ahti Heinla spoke at our Robotics Conference, and we’ll share the insights from the “Delivery Robots Knocking at Your Door” panel soon.

David Hanson and company’s humanoid robots were among the highlights of this year’s entire show. The founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics spoke with Robotics Trends at his booth in Eureka Park, as well as during the “Improving Human-Robot Interaction With AI” panel.

In addition to Hanson’s lifelike bust of Albert Einstein, the company will be selling a scaled-down version of the physicist to households at about $300, a fraction of the price of similar social robots.

“Professor Einstein’s design is close to finished,” Hanson said. “We’ve got an arrangement for producing 50,000 robots, and we’ll begin shipping later this spring. It should be in all the major retail outlets soon.”

While not as realistic as the larger model, “Professor Einstein” displayed a wide variety of human expressions, relies on several sensors and a voice interface, and its artificial intelligence capabilities could make it a must-have for the home and educational markets.

Hanson Robotics participated in the Disney Accelerator, and its founder reiterated the importance of imagination, robots with personality, and large companies such as Amazon with its Alexa/Echo preparing the market for consumer robots.

“It’s fine that science fiction and robotics startups have set expectations so high, because they prompt us to take steps to realize that world,” he said.