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Segway Robotics' Loomo want to be your mobile companion Special

By Karen Graham     Jan 14, 2018 in Technology
Segway Robotics' Loomo is far more than the typical rideable Segway. Once you step off Loomo, with the push of a button or a voice command, it transforms from a rideable into a friendly robot.
Segway was founded by renowned inventor Dean Kamen in 1999, and by 2001, the first Segway Personal Transporter (PT) was introduced to the public. Over the next few years, Segway introduced updates to core products, including its first three-wheel personal transportation device, the SE-3 Patroller, for the public safety market in 2014.
However, in 2015, Segway and Ninebot, Inc. formed a partnership, focusing on research and development, manufacturing, sales and service in the short-distance transportation industry. This led to the introduction of the Ninebot by Segway miniPRO, in December 2015.
Learning to ride a Segway
Learning to ride a Segway in Toronto's historic Distillery District.
Photo by DigitalJournal.com
In 2016, Segway teamed up with Intel to introduce a prototype personal transporter at CES 2016. At that time, the self-balancing vehicle, (not a hoverboard) was pretty basic, and more gimmick than a promising new product and the CES crowd reacted with an appropriate mix of humor and confusion.
To discover more about Segway Robotics' Loomo and what's in store for the future, Digital Journal spoke with Adam Bao, the U.S. spokesperson for Segway Robotics' Loomo.
Digital Journal: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me, Adam. I was very impressed with Loomo after seeing a video of you riding it around CES 2018. What is so special about this robot?
Adam Bao: Loomo is not only rideable but an intelligent robot. And as the video you saw showed, it is easy to handle, And the best part — and the thing that makes it so much more than just a mobility tool – is the artificial intelligence we have added to Loomo. I want to stress it gives the consumer mobility and AI functionality. This is what differentiates Loomo from other robots.
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Segway Robotics
Digital Journal: I notice that in the reviews I have read that Loomo is being called something between a hoverboard and a robotic companion. Tell me more about the mobility aspects of Loomo and how does someone control where Loomo goes.
Bao The Loomo is backed by Intel and Xiaomi. Intel’s RealSense provides sensors to make it safe to use indoors and out while the Segway platform makes it self-balancing. You asked how I was able to steer Loomo. If I lean forward, it goes forward, and if I add pressure to my left or right foot, sensors in the platform will let Loomo respond by either going left or right. Loomo can travel up to 11 mph in the segway mode, and when it is in the robot mode, about 4.0 mph.
Digital Journal: Tell me about Loomo's artificial intelligence. Does it have to go through a period of "learning" to recognize your voice? I guess what I want to ask, is how much training does it need?
Bao: If you, Karen, were to get one delivered to your door, once inside, Loomo would feel right at home. The Intel RealSense camera enables depth-sensing, face recognition and person tracking, so it is actually quite comfortable from the first day. Loomo also has localization and mapping powers, regardless of if it is indoors or outdoors. But as for "machine learning," yes, Loomo will constantly be learning, not only its environment but voice commands and facial recognition.
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Segway Robotics
Digital Journal: I already know how cute Loomo is, but how much does Loomo weigh? And from the pictures, it seems to not be too big, which is good if it is going to be roaming around someone's house. How about some details in that regard?
Bao: Loomo is 650 mm (25.5 inches) in height and 570 mm (22.5 inches) wide. It weighs about 19 kilometers (42 pounds). So most people could easily pick it up. Loomo has a battery capacity of 329 Wh, and in segway mode, this will give you about two hours of power before it needs to be recharged. The battery will last 8 to 9 hours in the robotic mode. Unlike Alexa or other similar products, which are stationary voice assistants, Loomo also has that capability plus it has mobility. Yes, I think Loomo has a cute face, too. And with its 4.5 inch LCD screen, it also responds in a friendly mode.
Digital Journal: I noticed that Loomo will carry a backpack. Then I saw where it could be used to deliver other items with an attached cart it pulls behind. So, does this mean it could be used for other things besides a personal companion?
Bao: Segway Robotics has two divisions, Loomo enterprise, and Loomo personal consumer robotics. So there are other applications in businesses where Loomo can also be used. But as a personal companion, Loomo can also carry your packages or other items. Say, for example, you can ride Loomo to the corner store in the Segway mode and let it carry your packages in a backpack, following as you walk home in the robot mode.
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Segway Robotics
Digital Journal: What is the one thing you want to say about Loomo, Adam that you think sets it apart from all the other robots on the market today?
Bao: We want to target consumers who want robotic mobility and the artificial intelligence available today. The Loomo is ready for production and will be on the market in the U.S. in just a few months. And there are many more capabilities we will be bringing out through updates that will make Loomo even more consumer-friendly.
Loomo is an exciting addition to the usual robots shown off at CES 2018. It's different because it is mobile, yet Loomo also has the same AI capabilities, voice commands and personality of other products. It will be interesting to see what additional platforms Segway Robotics will add to Loomo in the coming months.
More about segway robotics, Loomo, Artificial intelligence, Mobility, ces 2018