Robots at CES 2020: Robo-cats, sex tech, pizza makers and more


This story is part of CES 2020, complete coverage of the showroom floor for the hottest new tech gadgets around.

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As 2020 grinds into gear, CNET will be kick-starting a new decade with a trip to the Nevada desert for the annual tech bonanza CES. When we arrive in Las Vegas, we expect to be greeted by a bunch of new TVs, scores of eccentric gadgets and a whole gaggle of robots.

We’re still some years away from robots outnumbering humans at the show, but every year it does seem as though more bots are present on the show floor. In the past decade we’ve seen robots become more complex, more affordable and more diverse. The number of contexts in which they play a role in our lives — from the home to the workplace and beyond — have expanded to provide us with a vision of how humans and robots will coexist and collaborate in the future.

At CES this year, we’ll likely see this broad range of robots on full display. Among the CES Innovation Award nominees alone there’s the latest Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, an esports fighting robot and the show-stealing star of CES 2019, Groove X’s huggable companion robot Lovot. 

Also back for the show this year will be the latest and greatest version of Omron’s ping-pong-playing robot, Forpheus, and Lora DiCarlo’s sex toy Ose, which is finally ready and on sale after being awarded an Innovation Award in 2019.

We can’t wait to be surprised and delighted by the bots on display at the show this year. Ahead of CES kicking off next week, here are three things we’re particularly excited to see.

Get yourself a pizza


We’re already hungry for robot-made pizza.


One of the best reasons to visit Vegas is the sheer array of excellent food on offer, and this year at CES there’ll be one more option as Seattle-based company Picnic brings its pizza-assembly robot to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Picnic’s robot can produce up to 300 12-inch personalized pizzas per hour, and already is doing so at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. In the future, the technology could well be adapted to make up other dishes, including buns, bowls, tortillas and plates. For now, though, pizza is the focus, and we’ll be sure to get our best taste-testers on the case of checking for even dispersal of cheese, tomato, salami and other fixings.

Picnic will reveal the exact location of its robots on its website ahead of CES — we’ll race you to the front of the queue.

Pets versus robots

Comparing robots to one another is usually a pointless pursuit, given how diverse they are in both build and purpose. The one exception is when judging which robot is the cutest — and there’s a lot of competition.


The Tombot robot puppy is designed for seniors with dementia.


The cutest robots are often designed for the home, either as toys or as companions. The best-known of these is Sony’s Aibo, the robo-dog pet surrogate. At CES this year we expect to see a number of robots who could rival Aibo for your affections.

Shenzhen-based Elephant Robotics is listed as attending the show this year, and though the company historically has focused on making robotic arms, we’re hoping to see another project it’s been working on. In December, it put its robotic feline MarsCat on Kickstarter, and we’re hoping to play with the purring, pouncing bionic robo-cat at the show. We’re also crossing our fingers that we may meet Tombot, a realistic Labrador companion robot designed for seniors with dementia.

As well as robots that are pets, we’ll also see robots for pets at the show this year, including the LavvieBot smart litter tray for cats and the launch of Mia, a robot that will play with your precious puss or pooch and dispense dry food and treats.

Righteous robots

One big trend at CES this year will be the focus on robots for good. A series of talks and panel discussions will look at the ways robots are helping humans, including the role they’ll increasingly play in saving lives and saving the planet.

The sessions will examine robots as forces for good, looking at how they’re assisting humans in preserving rare marine species deep under the sea and in exploring in outer space — the moon, Mars and beyond.

Meanwhile, Bosch will present a sensor system that’ll ride around on NASA’s Astrobee robot, which roams the International Space Station, to detect sounds that could indicate technical faults.

We’re also expecting to see a number of advances in surgical robots and robotic hands, as well as robots designed to help with care and recovery.

For all the robot news and other announcements coming out of CES, be sure to keep your eyes fixed on CNET Jan. 5-10.


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