Meet the robots that can 'see, hear and feel' at Gitex 2021 in Dubai

German company Neura Robotics has developed autonomous, cognitive 'cobots' to help in our homes

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Robots that learn what needs doing while cleaning your house and understand verbal commands will be commercially available as soon as next year, says the manufacturer.

German company Neura Robotics – which is exhibiting at the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition in Dubai for the first time – says it has improved the scope of industrial robots.

Neura Robotics has robots that can be used in a multitude of settings – from the office to shops and healthcare clinics.

Now it has created a housekeeper robot installed with artificial intelligence, said David Reger, Neura Robotics founder and chief executive.

Our robots have cognitive abilities, which means they hear, they see, they feel, and they have a brain which thinks
David Reger, Neura Robotics

“The problem we had until now was not the ability of a robot or of AI, it was more about the pricing issue – we needed somehow to get a price down so everyone can afford it,” Mr Reger said at Gitex.

“So that's exactly what we did. We developed something which we will present very soon, which is actually affordable to have in your home, and that's only possible through AI.”

So far, home robots have only proven useful for simple tasks.

Amazon's Alexa can search the web for facts, play music or tell a pre-programmed joke; Roomba's can vacuum your house; and Google Nest automatically controls the heat, light and locks in your home.

Neura Robotics say their robots are “chalk and cheese” compared to these single-function bots.

“Our robots have cognitive abilities, which means they hear, they see, they feel, and they have a brain which thinks,” said Mr Reger.

“If it sees dishes which are dirty, it will clean them autonomously.

“Before, you had to uniquely programme a robot to get things done. Now with the new kind of robot which we offer, it is actually AI-inclusive.

"This means, they think and learn and understand things like humans do.”

In practical terms, this means a person will not have to instruct the robot to wash clothes and load the dishwasher, because it will realise what needs to be done without the need for human interaction.

However, should you wish to speak to the robot, it will respond to verbal commands, as illustrated by MAiRA, the AI-powered robot on display at the Neura Robotics stand at Gitex.

MAiRA – which stands for multi-sensing intelligent robotic assistant – has object recognition skills and can be controlled through gestures or words.

On Sunday, a constant crowd of Gitex visitors watched as MAiRA's dexterous, hinged arm and pincer-shaped hand played noughts and crosses with visitors, picked up canisters of snacks when asked, and sorted grey pipes from black.

Mr Reger described this invention as a “cobot”, because it can work collaboratively alongside humans, and do high precision, heavy-duty or monotonous tasks with minimal oversight.

The robots are also programmed not to harm humans. They are fitted with a patented 360-degree system of sensors that can distinguish people from other objects and instruct the robot to change direction, slow down or stop.

“Our robot is actually the first robot in the world to understand what is a human, and that's actually a very big advantage when it comes to safety,” Mr Reger said.

“Before, the robot could collide with a human. Our robots will never hurt a human and that's actually one of the most important rules to get robots into your home.

“And that's what we have accomplished.”

Day One at GITEX – in pictures

Updated: October 18, 2021, 9:01 AM