A robot baby stroller: genius idea or automation gone too far?

Watch out for robo-stroller

A stroller which wheels itself has been unveiled by Chinese company Cowarobot.

Freeing up your hands to enjoy an organic soy latte and gluten-free banana bread, Chinese company Cowarobot's autonomous stroller follows you around the factory outlets with your precious cargo in tow.

Unveiled at the CES Asia technology show in Shanghai earlier this month, the motorised smart baby stroller follows you at arm's length, using built-in cameras to track your every move and hopefully avoid bumping into things and waking the baby.

Should the smart stroller lose sight of you, it homes in on your wrist bracelet to ensure you don't accidentally leave bub behind. You can also double-tap on the bracelet to call the stroller to your side.

Too posh to push? This robot stroller is for you.
Too posh to push? This robot stroller is for you. Photo: Adam Turner

The control bracelet has a 30-metre range, should the stroller decide to stroll away, but as a fail-safe the stroller also has built-in GPS. So there's no need to panic, as you can always pull out your smartphone to check on your baby's adventures while you grab another latte and peruse your baby's Instagram account to see if it's spotted any bargains in the vintage clothing store.

Of course most parents would be mortified at the thought of entrusting their child to a free-range baby stroller, even if it stayed in sight, but Cowarobot is confident it's on a winner. The autonomous stroller won't go on sale until next year, but the company already sells smart luggage which works the same way, rolling along behind you as you walk through the airport.

AvatarMind's iPal wants to be your child's best friend but looks like it's planning an android invasion.
AvatarMind's iPal wants to be your child's best friend but looks like it's planning an android invasion. Photo: Adam Turner

In theory it's the same concept, but in practice you might be a bit more upset if you lose the baby instead of the spare undies in your suitcase. The stroller's motors have enough grunt to make it up and down slopes while maintaining a steady speed. It has a maximum speed of seven kilometres an hour — a brisk walking pace — so you shouldn't have too much trouble chasing it down if it develops a mind of its own.

The built-in rechargeable battery is good for 20 kilometres so if it does get away from you it will eventually run out of puff and you can push it and your baby home the old-fashioned way. Cowarobot's autonomous stroller wasn't the only tech on show at CES Asia likely to make most parents shudder. AvatarMind's iPal robot wants to be your child's best friend but looks like something from an android invasion horror movie.

Taking iPad babysitting to the next level, the iPal is designed to keep your younglings entertained for hours. It even has sensors on its arms so it can respond to your touch, but it's hard for parents to fall in love with those dead eyes, pointy ears and expressionless face.

While the iPal is supposedly educational, you'd have to wonder whether it was secretly turning your children against you, to win over allies come the rise of the machines. Treat it nicely and perhaps it will let you live, scurrying around the house to meet your new master's every need.

Adam Turner attended CES Asia in Shanghai as a guest of CES.

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