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The $249 Vector robot goes on sale in October. Photo: Anki

Anki, known for its Overdrive iPhone-controlled race cars and Cozmo robot, is launching a third product called Vector. It's like Cozmo's older brother — capable of running on its own without a smartphone and able to find its own way to a charger.

Why it matters: Anki has bigger ambitions than most people realize, but believes the key to building Rosie from "The Jetsons" is to start small and get better over time.

"At a high level, our goal is to figure out how to get robotics into people’s homes," Anki president Hanns Tappeiner told Axios. So far Anki has sold 1.5 million of its first two products, including several hundred thousand Cozmos.

The details: Vector will sell for $249 and go on sale Oct. 12, with a Kickstarter pre-sale. It's powered by a Qualcomm quad-core processor, has about twice as many parts as Cozmo (nearly 700 vs 340) and operates independently over a Wi-Fi connection. Like Cozmo, it can recognize people's faces and enjoys play. This time around, the toy can also respond to both speech and touch.

Vector's debut comes as the makers of some higher-priced home robots have been forced to shut down.

Tappeiner is hopeful that at a lower price, Vector will avoid that fate. As for its use, Tappeiner thinks it is more like a digital pet for the whole family than a kid's toy, which was Cozmo's raison d'etre.

How it works: I was one of the first people outside the company to see a prototype Vector in action and have also had a chance to play more extensively with Cozmo.

  • Like Cozmo, Vector can recognize different people and say hi when it sees them. Both have a similar feel, though the sophistication and ambition with Cozmo is clearly higher.
  • Vector can learn more about each person it encounters, including whether they like to play.
  • Vector can take pictures when asked, play some basic games, deliver messages and answer some queries. (Asked for the weather in Seattle, during our demo, its eyes sloshed with rain.)
  • It's constantly building a map of the world it moves through, including obstacles and its charger.

What's next: Tappeiner said Anki's goal is to launch products every 2-4 years, each time moving the company closer to its longer-term goal of a truly useful home robot.

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.