Amazon’s autonomous toy car, Stella Artois builds a robot bartender, and Microsoft partners with U.S. Army
Smart home news on robots, self-driving tech and AR
Stella Artois hits the holiday season hard with a robot bartender hack that helps serves your guests as you entertain, while Amazon pushes out a self-driving toy car that may not make it under the tree this year — but will be an interesting coding game for kids of all ages. The U.S. Army is moving forward with augmented reality, a robot is getting training for Mars exploration and Ikea pushes further into the smart home space. Here's this week's latest news in the Internet of Things.
Stella Artois has created a new beer companion, called Bartending Automatic Robotic Technology — or B.A.R.T. for short — that can help serve alcohol and snacks. The accessory attaches to a robot vacuum, such as Roomba and provides the service to customers and household guests while also cleaning up after itself. The accessory includes a tray that can hold up to four bottles of Stella Artois as well as a snack bowl. The new tool was available for $19.99 online (this sold out quickly.) But blueprints can still be downloaded to 3D print the device at home.
Amazon is pushing into the self-driving car business with a new racing league called AWS DeepRacer League. At its heart is a tiny toy car that can be purchased on Amazon's site for $399 — although pre-orders are just $249 — and people will be able to code the car, and test out different ways for it to drive itself. Users will also be able to try their programs in an online simulator before testing them on the actual toys.
The U.S. military can thank Microsoft for its latest piece of technology, through a $480 million contract for the tech company's augmented reality system HoloLens. The Army plans to use HoloLens for combat missions and training. Unlike virtual reality technology, Microsoft's AR headset places images and other data on top of the world that surrounds the user. The Army is expected to purchase more than 100,000 headsets through the contract.
The European Space Agency's new interactive robot, SpaceBok, is gearing up for a future in space exploration. Built with assistance from ETH Zurich and ZHAW Zurich University, the robot is undergoing testing at a facility called Mars Yard that includes a large sandbox meant to train the robot to be in a Mars environment. Unlike other robots, the SpaceBok is built to hop, not roll or walk, which team members say will make it easier for the bot to navigate through the dangerous terrain of the planet.
Feeling guilty about using disposable water bottles? A new water bottle, called Neat Jug, is designed to purify water without needing any external power. The bottle self-charges and can purify 20,000 liters of water, just by turning its handle for about two-and-a-half minutes. The bottle then releases UVC light. The 750 mL Neat Jug comes with a filter cap, carrying cap and a USB-C port to charge the bottle if an electrical outlet is available.
Ikea is pushing further into the smart home space, working with phone company Xiaomi to produce smart plugs and lighting products. The smart plugs and devices can also be controlled with a wireless control remote that Ikea sells for $15, and the plugs are compatible with lamps, coffee makers, tea kettles and other appliances. They also work, naturally, through Ikea's app.