Anki is opening Cozmo’s SDK to makers, developers and educators

We’re still a few months away from when Cozmo’s first set to open his Pixar-inspired eyes to the world, but Anki’s already revealing some big plans for its little robot, starting with a wide-scale launch of an SDK targeted at hackers, makers and researchers that will accompany his October launch.

That’s the first of a three-phase rollout for the software development kit. Phase two will be targeted specifically at K-12 educators and students and phase three is designed for commercial app developers. The timing isn’t concrete for either, but when we sat down with the company’s president Hanns Tappeiner earlier today, he mentioned late 2016 and early 2017 as timeframes for phases two and three.

“It turns out over the last four-and-a-half years when we were developing Cozmo,” Tappeiner explained, “we were developing one of the most sophisticated consumer robots out there. So the SDK was pretty easy to create.” The initial kit will be built on top of Python, leveraging the million or so lines of code the company created for the plucky little robot, letting developers harness complicated actions like facial recognition, path planning and 3D modeling with a few simple lines of code.

Anki, unsurprisingly, has big plans for the system. The executive believes that Cozmo’s SDK could help open robotics programming to a much larger audience than previously available, building on top of the systems the company has been developing for the past several years. It will offer users as much or as little control and access to the underlying code, making it potentially useful for programmers and first-time coders alike.


“We’re very interested in advancing the field of robotics,” says Tappeiner. “When industries usually change from being in a lab to getting a huge amount of coverage is when you get people who are non-experts to contribute to the industry. Pre-2007 mobile phones, you had to be a hardcore developer to create an app. After the iPhone and Android, you had people with arts backgrounds and chemistry backgrounds developing apps. That’s when you see industries exploding.”

The initial SDK release will be a beta of sorts, allowing users to offer feedback before a final release aimed at consumer developers. The delay will also afford Anki time to figure out how to offer up third-party apps, be it through an app store or directly through existing app stores.