harrymcc writes: Toymaker Anki, whose Cozmo robot has been a hit, has announced its next bot: Vector. Though it looks a lot like Cozmo, it packs far more computational power -- Cozmo relied on a phone app for smarts -- and utilizes deep-learning tech in the interest of giving Vector a subtler, more engaging personality. Over at Fast Company, Sean Captain has a deep dive into the software engineering that went into the effort. Vector is being powered by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 212 chip, and has cartoon eyes displayed on a 184 x 96-pixel screen. The robot actually scans its environment via a single 720p wide-angle camera mounted below the screen. "Cozmo springs to attention when you call its name, making twittering sounds, and lifting its bulldozer-like arms up and down," writes Captain. "If you ignore Cozmo, the bot gets more in your face, or makes loud, obnoxious snoring sounds." While Vector can connect to the internet and display weather information, set timers, and speak answers to various questions, it's the social and visual intelligence that people may fall in love with the most. Vector is able to detect people and interact with them, even when faces aren't visible. Computer vision technical director Andrew Stein and his team "trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) -- a popular deep-learning AI technology that mimics the brains visual cortex," reports Captain. "Using the often blurry and distorted footage that Vector's camera captures as he moves around, Stein has been teaching the CNN to detect people from the back or the side, for instance, up to about 10 feet away."
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