Loomo: a Segway / robot hybrid

March 14, 2018 | 02:50
You going my way?
You going my way?
What do you get when you cross a Segway with a robot? A personal transportation device called Loomo that is said to be as stable to ride as a Segway but with no handlebar to hang onto. Chances are, as you ride, you’ll need both hands free anyway to update your social media status and glug a breakfast smoothie. Loomo is a fascinating concept vehicle that can behave like a pet, be your buddy, responding to voiced commands, one that can follow you around and carry your shopping and even give you a ride if you are short of time.

Segway Robotics has chosen to fund Loomo via a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo:

It uses a microphone array to localize sounds and responds to voiced commands like “Loomo follow me”. You can hitch a ride and steer using knee pressure on the sides of Loomo’s head. A single charge should be good for 22 miles at speeds of up to 11 mph in vehicle mode; in autonomous robot-mode the speed is limited to 4.3 mph.  With the robot body to grip with your legs it would seem a more secure ride than a ‘hoverboard’ where there’s nothing to hold onto and it’s all too easy for rookies to find themselves face down in the dirt. Under the hood is an Intel Atom Z8750, 4-core 2.56 GHz processor running an OS based on Android 5.1. Apps for both Android and iOS (both coming soon) will allow you to interact with Loomo using your mobile device.

The original Segway used all its processing power to keep itself upright, a stunning feat at the time. Now with Loomo, that task is a given, almost incidental to all its other capabilities, it has so many more sensors, communication possibilities, AI and driverless skills built-in that it could be the next logical step in robot evolution. Like the early Daleks, however unless Loomo gets thrusters, its nemesis will of course be the stairway (it weighs 42 lbs).

Loomo is less expensive than you might think: for $1,399 early bird backers can reserve their own. The campaign has been running now for around four weeks and it’s already oversubscribed with over $420,000 in pledges. The chances are good that Loomo will be hitting the streets in May.
 
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