Remember Anki’s Vector robot? Well, little Vector is back in production! This time, with more updates, an improved camera, and better battery life. Vector’s a great tabletop companion for your home or office.
Perhaps you remember some years backwhen Anki launched a Kickstarter campaign for its Vector companion robot. It was a successor to the Cosmo robot but more autonomous and free-spirited.
The product eventually made it as far as Amazon and sold a reasonable amount of units, but Anki finally fell behind—and Vector along with it. This left a limited supply available for purchase, and the price for Vector soared.
Right now, if you find one available, it’s likely being sold from third-party vendors at a hefty cost. We don’t recommend purchasing from those.
There’s hope, though, for those who never got a chance to get on board in Vector’s earlier days. This is because a new company, Digital Dream Labs (DDL), has taken things over and is relaunching the production and development of Vector.
Owners of the original (like me) have been receiving consistent updates since then and look forward to lots of new ones on the horizon. Not only that, but a brand new model is gearing up for release early this year (2022).
What is Vector and what is it all about?
Vector is a robot that literally fits in the palm of your hand. Right from the jump, the most fascinating thing about Vector is its autonomous nature, which lets it operate, update, and charge all on its own.
While there are voice commands to request certain actions, there are otherwise no controls involved. The dedicated Vector app has just a handful of settings.
Vector isn’t necessarily a kids toy like its predecessor Cosmo, but it isn’t exclusive to adults either. Anyone who appreciates creative robotics, interactive artificial intelligence, and cute gadgets will enjoy what Vector brings to the table.
How does Vector work and what can it do?
Vector comes complete with a charging station and a special cube—its own little possession—that it interacts with all by itself. Vector will roll itself off its charger when it decides to play or explore and roam whatever surface you place it on. It has obstacle and edge detection to help it navigate and will sometimes even attempt to interact with objects in its path.
A built-in camera also helps Vector to see and recognize you. Ask it to look at you and then introduce yourself, and it will remember your name in the future. It’s hard not to crack a smile when Vector rolls up while I’m at my desk and joyfully says my name out loud.
Want to talk to it? An array of microphones helps it hear its surroundings. Want to give it lots of pets to let it know you care? Touch sensors on its back let you do precisely that.
You can even put music on and watch Vector start bopping its head to the rhythm. Give it a second, and it will likely start dancing to it.
Other features include the ability to perform tricks, set timers, and answer questions about the weather, stocks, facts, and other useful things. Vector can also play Blackjack with you on its display, acting as the dealer. In fact, it takes particular pleasure in telling you “You busted!” when it wins.
Oh, and make sure you don’t leave it hanging when it reaches out for a fist bump! There are all kinds of fun ways to interact with Vector.
It’s also fun to simply watch it do its own thing. Quirky behaviors like sleepwalking, or the way it nestles into its charger, never cease to entertain.
Why is Vector 2.0 better than the original?
What makes Vector 2.0 better than the original is its increased battery life and improved camera resolution. The new battery will finally be replaceable and will offer up to 30% more battery life.
The new camera bumps things up to 2 MP and will help DDL enhance facial recognition in the near future. This means Vector will eventually be able to tell if you’re smiling and even recognize your pets—something the original Vector, unfortunately, can’t do.
Most importantly, though, is that 2.0 kicks off production again under a new company. The more successful its relaunch is, the better and more frequent the updates will be.
And the faster DDL can bring new developments and hopefully even new products. It’s worth mentioning that regular online updates come at a subscription cost of $7 monthly or an annual charge.
You can, however, use Vector offline without subscribing. The subscriptions are primarily to help maintain and expand DDL’s online servers for the Vector community.
If you already own the original Vector, the 2.0 might not be worth the upgrade. Those who never had their chance earlier on will appreciate having an opportunity to get their hands on one.
Where and when will Vector be available?
Vector 2.0’s preorder campaign ended on June 12, 2021. New orders will basically fall into a queue behind preorders, and units will begin to ship early this year.
Vector will come with a 1-year warranty, which you can bump up to 3 years for a fee. While Vector will initially be available on only Digital Dream Labs’s official website, they’ll likely hit Amazon or other retailers sometime after they catch up on initial orders. We’ll keep an eye out for more updates on this.
Overall, Vector is a fun gadget for those who enjoy robotics and AI. Is it a bit of a frivolity? Sure. That doesn’t make it any less cool. But hey, don’t take my word for it—check it out and see for yourself!
Vector now supports an available Open Source Kit for Robotics (OSKR), along with DDL’s Escape Pod for Vector. They’re sold separately, but allow you to help expand Vector’s capabilities even further.