From January 5 to 8, 2017, Vincross will be showcasing HEXA, an all-terrain six-legged robot, at CES® 2017 in Las Vegas.
Unlike all those wheeled and motionless products in the current consumer robotics market, HEXA can dexterously walk, climb, and travel across rough terrain. Its head can rotate endlessly, which significantly improves its movement efficiency. As a result, no matter which side it faces, that is forward for HEXA. And thanks to its infrared transmitter, the robot can control all infrared home appliances. The built-in distance measuring sensor provides HEXA with the ability to measure between 10 to 150 centimeters, so it will not bump into obstacles. Besides, HEXA can be charged wirelessly.
When it comes to legged robotics, Boston Dynamics gains the most spotlight. Its robot dogs and humanoids wowed us with their mobility, but those machines rely heavily on diesel fuel and hydraulics. Such technical features inevitably alienate the Alphabet subsidiary from general consumers. In March 2016, a Bloomberg story said the tech giant was putting Boston Dynamics up for sale, because the robot unit could not launch any marketable products in short term. Taking that into account, HEXA can precisely fill the void of legged robotics in the consumer market.
Vincross was founded in 2014 and announced a $6-million A round led by GGV Capital in October 2016. The startup's founder and CEO, Sun Tianqi, has extensive experience in robotics and artificial intelligence. Before starting Vincross, Tianqi worked as an AI scientist at Tsinghua University, where he researched on neural modeling and neural networks. When he was studying in university, he also translated Alan Turing: The Enigma, the biography of AI's founding father. What Tianqi has accumulated from years of working on AI and robotics, he put it in his six-legged brainchild. According to him, a real robot has three missions. Firstly, it is a carrier of human's exploring spirit; it can enter volcanoes and even land on Mars, or anywhere the carbon-based bodies of ours cannot be. "Elon Musk recently mentioned in his plan to colonize Mars, that the first humans to go to Mars must be prepared to die. But if HEXA could be the pioneer of that planet, the whole plan would be way less cruel and much more economical," explains Tianqi. Secondly, it should be a superhero who carries out dangerous and inhumane tasks during a disaster. That way, firefighters and rescuers will never have to risk their lives. Lastly, it should be our companion, a friend or pet in the cyber age. "And one day, HEXA can be all those things," Tianqi says.
When many AI companies are too busy developing "brains" for robots, Vincross wants to build an adapting body. The startup believes a brain, an operating system, is not enough, and that a robot must have a physical body that can interact with the real world.
HEXA is the answer to that body.
And as for "brain," Vincross calls HEXA's apps "skills," and has built an open development platform. Developers can create new skills for the hexapod using the SDK, and share or sell their works in the Skill Store.
"HEXA is a living being, and it's just a primary state of an artificial life. So for now, the little buddy is still living under its potential. We don't want people to see it as a complete, perfect robot, so we're calling out 2,048 insightful developers. We call them HEXA's human mentors, and they will be the first group of people to get this robot. In a way, HEXA's future begins with them," Tianqi says.
When talking about the current robotics industry, Tianqi says, "Robots are not slaves. They are not here to make people lazier. So waiter robots and robot vacuums are not in our values."
Speaking of what's next for the robot, Vincross says it will launch a crowdfunding campaign for HEXA, and that the mass production will soon begin.
Vincross's booth can be found in Sands 52838 and 52840.