When Anki unveiled its latest robot companion Vector earlier this year, the bot came with its own custom voice interface to better depict its playful character, said the company.
But one personality might not be enough for Vector: Anki announced today that it’s going to integrate Alexa into the little bot. The company announced the news in a blog post, saying it was the top request from backers on Kickstarter. “We’re in the early phases and hope to share more details soon on exact timing but we’re aiming for end of this year,” said the blog’s author, Anki CEO and co-founder Boris Sofman.
We’ve reached out to Anki for more details, but the company said it had nothing else to share at this time, so it’s not clear what this Alexa integration will actually mean. We can safely assume it won’t take over from Vector’s built-in personality, which the company spends a lot of time shaping with the help of animators and writers. But it might take over some basic question functionality. Anki can answer queries like “what’s the weather like,” start timers, and so on, but Alexa can do much more with the help of its ecosystem of skills.
The news is particularly interesting given rumors that Amazon is reportedly developing its own mobile robot with Alexa built in. Project Vesta, as the robot is supposedly called, would follow users around their home so they can talk to Alexa in more places.
Although Amazon’s AI assistant has made its way into plenty of products, from microwaves to cars, it hasn’t been put in a mobile robot for the home. But if that’s functionality that customers actually want, it might be Vector, not Vesta, that’s the first device to offer it.