Good robots don’t die – they just sold their fortune to the highest bidder. Digital Dream Labs was there after Anki’s premature implosion in 2019 to improve intellectual property. The Pittsburgh-based edtech company had originally planned to restart Vector and Cozmo sometime in 2020 and launch a Kickstarter campaign in March last year.
The company eventually raised $ 1.8 million on the crowdfunding website and today announced plans to do the overdue relaunch courtesy of a new distributor.
“There is tremendous demand for these robots,” CEO Jacob Hanchar said in a press release. “This partnership will complement the work our teams are doing to relaunch these products and ensure that Cozmo and Vector get on the shelves over the holidays.”
I don’t doubt a lot of people are trying to get their hands on the robots. Cozmo, in particular, was well received and sold reasonably well – but ultimately (and despite lots of funding) the company couldn’t avoid the fate of many robotics startups.
It will be fascinating to see what these machines look like when they are reintroduced. Anki invested tremendous resources in bringing them to life, including hiring ex-Pixar and DreamWorks employees to make the robots more lifelike. Much thought has been given to giving the robots their own personality, while the new owners of Vector, for example, are making the robot open source. Cozmo, meanwhile, will have programmable functions through the company’s app.
It could certainly be an interesting game for the STEM market that companies like Sphero are approaching. It’s gotten a pretty crowded space, but at least Anki’s new owners are building on solid foundations, with the fascinating and emotionally complex toy robots that their predecessors created.