Last week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona showcased the usual array of new phones, tablets and other cutting-edge consumer electronics. But there were also several robots on hand this year, in various stages of development, suggesting that our species no longer has exclusive attendee privileges at ginormous technology trade shows. We say hello to some of this year's bots in Barcelona.
Sony kept busy at this year's show by previewing several products in its Xperia line of gadgets. The Xperia Agent is a home digital assistant, similar to the Amazon Echo, but with image projection capabilities and A.I.-powered speech and gesture recognition. The Agent model showcased at this year's MWC is still in early prototype phase.
Launched last year by two Skype co-founders, the impressively named Starship Technologies is developing a fleet of wheeled delivery bots that can transport groceries or other goods from local stores to your home. The system will use existing infrastructure -- roads and sidewalks, presumably -- and can travel at about 4 mph.
The pint-sized companion robot known as Pepper is kind of a celebrity on the tech show circuit these days. Now on sale in Japan, Pepper is a humanoid droid designed to interpret human behavior and emotions, then alter its behavior accordingly -- kind of like a presidential candidate in primary season.
Pepper's little cousin Nao was also scooting around at this year's MWC. Li'l Nao is the latest from French robotics company Aldebaran and is equipped with an array of sensors, cameras and microphones designed to let the bot interact fully with its environment.
Part pet toy, part home security patrol bot, LG's Rolling Bot earned a good deal of attention at this year's Mobile World Congress. Rolling Bot does exactly that, moving around like the Star Wars droid BB-8, but without the head. It can interact with smart home devices via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and even has a remotely controlled laser pointer for confusing the cat.