Adorable robot friend Kuri can now find its way home to charge

Kuri, the robot companion being developed by startup Mayfield Robotics, is getting closer to production and gaining some new abilities ahead of its planned release later this year. The adorable little bot, which looks like something ripped from a Pixar movie, now does self-charging, topping up his powerhouse when needed. The robot can also map its home environment better, has improved speaker acoustics and more.

Mayfield, which is actually an internal startup wholly created by Bosch, has also completed Wi-Fi signal validation testing, which is a key step in making the thing a reality.

Kuri first broke cover at CES 2017, when the small robot, which looks a bit like an upside-down exclamation mark, won over media and audiences alike, melting the hearts of cynical jaded tech bloggers far and wide. At the time, Kuri opened for pre-orders, with a ship date of holiday season in 2017, and since then Mayfield has been providing regular updates about what Kuri’s gaining to keep customers confident their robo buddies are indeed on their way.

These updates make Kuri able to determine when it needs charging and find its pad, which is a key milestone in terms of delivering on its production promises. The robot can also now map its surroundings more accurately, because it’s actually been in testing in real homes to better understand a range of domestic layouts.

Kuri now also sounds better, both when making its incredibly cute noises in response to user input, and when playing music. That’s actually also probably pretty key to it being welcomed into hearts and homes, since better audio fidelity leads to more convincing anthropomorphization.

Mayfield says they’ll have more updates over the course of the summer as they head toward their target shipping timeframe.