Anki's Vector, the rolling pint-sized robot, officially turns into an Alexa device starting next Monday, getting many of the features dedicated to Amazon's smart speaker. Vector will be able to control Alexa-enabled devices, and tap into Alexa Skills, an Amazon shopping cart, set reminders, and even call up a Lyft among other abilities.
The $250 Vector is a clever, quite personable robot that, currently, is more toy-like than useful. The new Alexa update is an upgrade to Vector's abilities and creates a rolling Alexa — a smart speaker than can move, under its own power, with someone as they go from room to room.
When Alexa is called, through the 'Hey Alexa' phrase, Vector's face notably changes. Gone are the animated eyes, and a square blue halo appears, a play on the blue circle that lights up on Amazon Echo and Echo Dot's to let a user know the smart assistant is listening. Vector will also answer in a robotic version of Alexa's voice, and not its usual chirps and beeps that the robot uses to communicate.
Vector needs to be connected to Wi-Fi to activate most of its features, and the Alexa ability is no exception
With the holidays in full swing, Vector is also getting some new features including a seasonal greeting when he hears someone say, 'Happy Holidays,' or 'Happy New Year.'
The robot will also be able to handle more voice commands including turning up and down his volume, and the ability to direct the way moves just by telling Vector to turn around, or go left or right. It will also detect and read if someone's hand is nearby, and potentially roll up and ask to be petted. This feature, how Vector reacts when petted, is one of his more adorable features.
The update will be pushed out to Vector robots on Monday, December 17.