As it’s essentially a tiny super computer on treads, Cozmo completely blows other remote control toys out of the water. That’s because you don’t actually have to control it. In fact, this little robot toy from Anki can learn and explore all on its own, and you can play games and interact with it, too. Consider Cozmo this holiday season as a great gift for children (or even just children at heart).
Cozmo looks a bit like a tractor or a forklift, but it’s so small it can fit in the palm of your hand. It has a little levered arm that raises and lowers, allowing it to interact with the included Power Cubes. The Power Cubes are small cubes that light up on one side. The cubes have a role in some of the games Cozmo can play, and the robot also spends time lifting, moving and stacking the cubes.
When we had this robot in the office for testing, we fielded questions from all over the building: How does it work? How long does it take to charge? Does it have a controller or do you control it with the app like other robotic toys? The answer to these questions are somewhat surprising.
We’ll start with how you control Cozmo. Yes, there is an app and yes, you need to have the app open for Cozmo to function, but you don’t actually “drive” Cozmo around. Cozmo is autonomous, meaning that once it’s turned on and connected to the app, it will start to explore its surroundings and test its boundaries. If this sounds sort of Terminator-ish, don’t worry. This little toy is far from plotting global domination and closer to winning your heart.
To set up and start playing with Cozmo, you set it on its charging dock. It only takes about 10 minutes to charge, and in the meantime you can set up the app. The robot’s screen displays a password that you use to connect to its Wi-Fi. That’s right, Cozmo creates its own Wi-Fi signal. This signal has no internet connection, but it allows the app to communicate with Cozmo. We did have a few connectivity hiccups, but they were related to our smartphones occasionally dropping Cozmo’s non-internet connection in favor of a Wi-Fi signal with actual internet capabilities.
Out of the box, Cozmo can recognize and say the name of up to three people. Later on, you can unlock another slot. Once your name and face are saved, it will happily chirp out your name any time it notices you. It’s actually pretty magical.
Cozmo includes a few interactive games to start with, and you need the app to set these up and also to keep score. The more you play with Cozmo, the more it learns. You’ll win the first couple of rounds of games easily, but slowly as Cozmo learns, it gets faster and the games get harder to win. The little robot will even try to psyche you out to win a game. These actions are related to its “emotion chip,” as it’s called in the app. Your interactions with Cozmo will fill up the emotion meter, and the more you interact with the toy, the more it learns grows its emotional range.
Cozmo comes with a one-year warranty to protect against manufacturing defects, which is typical of this type of electronic toy. Should you have trouble with your robot, Anki’s website has a Support page with articles and FAQs, as well as social media pages and a forum.
Designed for ages 8 and up, Cozmo is sure to be a hit this holiday season. It’s adorable and endearing, yet unique and refreshing. We are excited about the possibilities the future holds for this toy robot as Anki hits the ground running with new updates to Cozmo’s software.