Home Tech, Science, Ideas, Future This Wobbly Robot Wants to Be Your Pet’s New Playmate

This Wobbly Robot Wants to Be Your Pet’s New Playmate

16
0

When I’m going to be away for longer than a normal work day, I usually set up a couple of security cameras so I can check in on my cats. But even the best security cameras can’t search for a pet hiding under the bed. The Ebo Pro can check out those hidden nooks and crannies, offering more peace of mind to anxious pet parents like me. It has a 1080p (HD) lens—the same as most standard home security cams. 

It’s speedy enough, but the feed is shaky, likely because its tank-style caterpillar track wheels don’t offer enough stability. They barely jut out from the bottom, so its small spherical body wobbles back and forth. It functions pretty well on my carpets, but the wobbles make it difficult to steer—not a deal breaker, but there’s certainly room for improvement. The Ebo may also topple over if a large enough obstacle, or a menacing cat paw, knocks it off balance, but that only happened to me once. 

Like some robot vacuums, the Ebo Pro has trouble properly returning to its dock to recharge. It tends to back up, move forward, and back up again for several minutes. For weeks, mine never actually managed to roll over its dock’s edge and charge. I thought my carpet was hindering it from getting enough momentum, but one day it magically figured out how to do it. However, if I use it for close to an hour and the battery starts to die—it dies rather quickly—the Ebo usually forgets how to latch again. This robot will need a hand returning to its dock at times, which isn’t the worst thing if you happen to be home. It’s more frustrating if you’re not.

On and On

The Ebo also has no “off” switch. Like many wireless earbuds, it has no power button. It’s just on … all the time. Properly docking will put it in standby, but it’s still on. To fully turn it off without the dock, you must use a pin to press a hidden reset button on the bottom and set it up again next time you want to use it. Or you can let it run out of battery.

You may not mind that Ebo is always on, but it’s inconvenient. If you or your cat accidentally knock it off the sensors—or you lose power during a middle-of-the-night storm as I did—Ebo will just turn on, let out a loud “Ebo,” and start roaming about until it dies or redocks itself. It’s quite terrifying when you’re trying to sleep.  

The fact that it’s always on and it has a camera can be an alarming combination. All data is stored internally, so there’s nothing in the cloud, and livestreaming from the camera to your phone is done through peer-to-peer technology, so it doesn’t go through a server to share live data. I probably wouldn’t dress in front of it, but I also wouldn’t do that in front of my computer out of an abundance of caution (or paranoia).