Apparently Segway Makes Robots Now

By Tom Pritchard on at

When you're at a big tech show it's not uncommon to see robots all over the place, for a variety of reasons. There are toy robots, performing robots, and I've even seen a demo of a robot samurai being controlled via a 5G network. This year's IFA came with something else, though. On display were autonomous robots that were also Segways, which is a weird combination of things I definitely never thought I'd be able to see.

These things are called Loomo, and they're part Segway, part robot, part action cam, and also sort of part pet. Intrigued by what I saw on the show floor, I actually felt it was necessary to pick up a brochure and see what was what. Apparently the Loomo is designed to do all those things. When you're not riding it'll follow you by itself, avoiding obstacles in the process, and shoot stabilised video of whatever it is you're doing. It also runs some version of Android, and will update itself automatically, assuming updates are actually available. This is Android we're talking about.

Other specs include a top speed of 18km/h (roughly 11mph), with a maximum distance of 35km. In other words, if you keep your power usage low you'll get just under two hours of life out of this thing. That's not bad, per se, assuming you're using things like drones for comparison, but it's not great either. If you're going to take it out into the world you won't get very far before you have to turn round, unless you fancy lugging a 19kg robot back home.

Not that much of these things matter. Like regular Segways, those stupid hoverboards, and other similar creations, I imagine the Loomo isn't legal here. You can't use it on the pavement because it's too fast, and you can't put it on the road because it isn't actually safe. It also doesn't have a number plate, as a car or motorbike would. That's probably a good thing. People manage to cause all sorts of trouble using their legs, and you can imagine the kind of things they'd get up to with a robot follower. Oh and the US price is $1,700, which is a lot for something with such limited use.

But hey, it's fun to watch them roll around and hit each other. That obstacle detection might need some finetuning, it seems.