Sifted loves a list (as many of you have pointed out to us, thank you very much). But sometimes ranking tech by amount of money raised or headcount isn’t the best way to recognise innovation.
Take robots. Creating a robot that inspires love rather than fear is an art. You can aim for Wall-E, but end up at Boston Dynamics.
So, in place of freaky or faintly dystopian droids, Sifted is happy to present some pleasant ones (influencers will say I’ve “curated” this list). These are not robots to make you groan and say “why are they doing that?” No, your reaction is more likely to be: “okay, that’s fine I guess. I don’t mind what that robot’s doing. Carry on”.
No fancy scoring system here: just gut and feels. I like a robot that might answer you with a “beep-boop”; one that can’t move fast or fly but instead trundles along. Extra points for those that won’t throttle me.
In no particular order, seven agreeable droids made in Europe:
Source: University of Bristol, Peter Wharton
This modest-looking shapeshifter, created by researchers at the University of Bristol, can carry an egg and keep it intact. So it can be entrusted with your heart too.
Source: United Robotics Group
Cheery robot waiter — with painted-on bow tie — from Paris-based United Robotics Group. A big plus: it can’t tamper with your food even if you’re rude to it (but why would you be?)
Source: TU Eindhoven
Created by TU Eindhoven, this robot has won the RoboWorld Cup four times in a row, including this year’s tournament in Bordeaux (the Dutch men’s team could only dream of such success).
Source: Small Robot Company
Tom, built by the UK’s Small Robot Company — the other bots the startup makes are called Dick and Harry — can scan fields, helping farmers detect weeds and understand crop health. There’s a good lad.
Source: Blue Frog Robotics
Another in the dinky, nonthreatening category. Developed by France’s Blue Frog Robotics, this bot can serve as a personal assistant, nanny or friend around the house. Just like with Puss in Boots, the cartoon character, it’s the big manipulative eyes that seal the deal here.
Source: Starship Technologies
Mini-fridge-sized delivery dude with a little flag so people can see it coming. The bot can also cut a rug: I saw one of these actually twerk its metal arse on the dancefloor at a Sifted event in Estonia.
This droid made by Swiss company ANYbotics has the pleasing appearance of a dog but with the added ability of being able to visit factories and “identify thermal anomalies” (something my dog either can’t or won’t do despite encouragement).