Segway’s first robot launches to developer partners

Segway’s moving along with its plan to develop its robotics capability, with the launch of its developer edition Loomo robot, the first robot it created and demoed last year at CES. The robot combines a domestic bot with a Segway personal transport, tackling last-mile transportation as well as addressing a host of other in- and around-home uses.

Loomo has autonomous capabilities and self-balancing, with an Intel RealSense depth sensor on board, along with an advanced camera and other tools for navigating its surroundings. It’s also outfitted with various connection technologies, a microphone array for voice input, and speakers for two-way communication with users.

The Segway Robotics team selected its initial department partners from a large applicant pool numbering in the “thousands,” the company says, who were selected from applicants to its Developer Program, which was announced at Intel’s Developer Forum in Shenzhen this past April. Developer concepts include both hardware and software, and in addition to the Loomo SDK, Segway will offer its partners a bay that allows adding on hardware accessories.

Developer kits will start rolling out to partners early this year, with the first to receive including BMW, Intel, MIT Smart Center and Stibo Accelerator. Segway chose the companies because of the range of opportunities they’ll be building with Loomo, which include autonomous driving for BMW; personal robotics and depth capabilities for Intel; medical and elderly care for MIT; and enterprise and consumer safety and retail for Stibo Accelerator.

A lot of companies this year, especially automakers, are demonstrating personal transportation solutions including electric scooters and portable shuttles to help address last-mile mobility for users who might be faced with mobility problems. Likewise, there’s a keen interest in personal and home robotics from both big and small companies.

A robot that has the potential to combine both successfully would likely be a popular option both with potential partners looking to supplement their own transportation solutions and with companies focused on addressing the opportunities that come along with an aging global population, so it’ll be interesting to see what this group of developer partners comes up with in terms of building out Loomo’s list of abilities.