While Cozmo sleeps, it snores. The small robot — shaped like a miniaturized bulldozer with a CRT monitor for a cockpit — sits in a charging dock, waiting to be awoken. Like Pixar’s adorably anthropomorphic WALL-E, Cozmo falls somewhere between a Mars rover and an animated woodland creature. It’s lifelike enough to evoke sympathy, but still enough of a toy not to teeter too close to the uncanny valley.
With the tap of a smartphone screen, Cozmo comes to life. It makes a subtle motion to indicate it’s shaking off its slumber and begins wheeling over to the edge of the table. When it gets too close, it slams to a halt and looks down over the cliff, emitting a series of terrified chirps. When it wheels back and reorients itself, Cozmo takes a hard look at the other faces in the room. Some are new, but others it remembers from before it fell asleep.
When I first saw Cozmo, it was asleep in its charging dock. I knew it this because Cozmo was snoring, its small cube-like head bobbing up and down with each breath. The animated eyes on its small screen were closed.
Sofman woke Cozmo up though his connected iPhone. Cozmo uses both the phone’s Bluetooth (low energy) and Wi-Fi to connect. The large bandwidth of Wi-Fi is critical because Cozmo’s brain is on the phone and while the robot has a vision system for “seeing” its environment, the interpretation of that data, along with every single animation (on the face and throughout Cozmo’s truck-like body), comes from the phone, via the Cozmo app.