iAsk Segway: How should we embrace the robot era?

You can either ride it out or let it follow you. When you say, "Follow me", it will become a cute little submissive who follows you around both inside and outside your home.

This cool and fashionable black technology product is called Loomo, the first mass-produced product from Segway. Unlike many "dull and expressionless" robots, Loomo is absolutely a robot of character.The emotional engine independently researched and developed by Segway's robot team endows it with its own personality, enables it to express emotions like human beings, such as happiness, loneliness, anger, mischief, etc.

It sounds as if such technologically sophisticated products should be entrusted to a senior entrepreneur with more experience.Therefore, it is hard to imagine the vice President of Segway, PuLi, is a "big boy" from China who wears jeans, sports shoes, T-shirts bearing the logo "Loomo" and black-rimmed glasses —— PuLi leaves us an impression as gentle and full of youth and vitality. Gloria Ai, founder of iAskMedia will join with this "big boy" to foresee the new future of human beings.

Is it a cute toy or a reliable Robot?

PuLi is full of confidence for Segway robot.He said Segway is the first one who commercialized the mobile and action robots."Loomo" is also the first robot on the market, which can be used both indoor and outdoor.

But more people have the same question with iAsk Leaders: how could a seemingly "adorkable" balance car be categorized as a robot when it looks like a cute toy from every aspect?

"From the robot sense, "Loomo" has a lot of sensors, such as the in-depth visual sensors, positioning camera, ultrasonic sensors and infrared sensors, and so on. This robot is actually full of all kinds of sensors. And these sensors are monitoring and making correct responses to the environmental changes all the time." Pu Li told iAsk Leaders. It is by virtue of the qualities that only robots have,"Loomo"becomes capable of helping users do a lot of things.

For example, for the regular balance car, when users don't want to ride, usually they have to carry it along, and they will feel tired for the burden. In such occasions, "Loomo" will activate its robot state and follow its users through the visual tracking function."Of course, when it follows you, you can ask it to carry something for you, like a bag or a few bottles of water."

In fact, at this point in time, robots of all types are going through a transition from toys to tools.

"We found that any such functional and groundbreaking technological products are used out of interest at beginning.And the fact that so many people are interested in it also reflects the promising future of it." Pu Li told iAsk Leaders. China has implemented Developer Program to develop products with broader application scenario. In order to give "Loomo" more functions, there have been thousands of developers and institutions in the world asking for cooperation with us. Institutions behind these developers include Facebook, Amazon, Google, MIT, Ebay, etc.They expect to develop majorly six applications focusing on customer service, medical and pension, remote collaboration, entertainment, education and AI.

Gloria Ai: what is the situation of robots around the world?

Pu Li: personally, I think robot development in the whole world just starts a new chapter. Why? Because robots need so many sensors and other components.And these componentsare only developed and gradually become mature with the development of smartphones over the last ten years. At this point last year and this year, we just begin to see products like ours to be produced and marketed in large volumes.

How has robot become the love of Pu Li's life?

Behind this smart robot who can move and think, there is a real mastermind:Pu Li, founder of the Segway robot. Pu Li was born in 1983. He used to be a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the Swiss Federal University of Technology, Artificial Intelligence was his major research subject.

Pu Li once said that his ultimate dream was to start the journey of intelligent robots again in a new era, and to bring robots and artificial intelligence into the lives of ordinary people.His love for robot can be traced back to his childhood when he was obsessed withhand-made stuffs and animation.After entering university, Pu Li joined the Beihang University’s Association for Manufacturing Technology and served as the head of the association, during which time he won many wards of the China Air Robot Competitions.

In 2007, China's Antarctic Expedition used the unmanned aircraft system for the first time to measure the temperature of sea ice in Zhongshan Station. The system used was researched and developed by Pu Li's team. Around 2015, when Pu Li completed his PHD program, he quit the job as a Twitter data scientist and came back to his favorite area of robotics, serving as the vice president of Segway-Ninebot Group.


After returning to robotics, PuLi said, "robots are a reflection of a group of people's materializations of their own cognitions. To givea robot the free movement ability or set a personality, it is a free journey of pursuing a dream without many rules in the process." With the introduction of Segway robot, Pu Li is moving forward towards his dream.

Gloria Ai: what kind of mentality and mission are driving you for this cause?

Pu Li: actually, our entire company is comprised of very young buddies who join together to do something. Our sense of mission is not that strong. We just think it's cool and interesting. It's our childhood dream.Because we all watched robot cartoons when we were young and saw many movies.We just wanted to make such dreams come true.I think all these technological advances are actually realizing our childhood dreams little by little.

Can robots replace humans?

According to the Global Commercial Robotics Spending Guide released by IDC, China is the world's largest robot market and its market share is expected to account for more than 34% of the world's total by 2021. In 2018 alone, China's service robot market will reach 12.29 billion Yuan, up 27.2% year on year.

There is infinite market. The technologies are developed well. It can be predicted that robots will truly enter the homes of ordinary people in the future. In Pu Li’s mind, for many of Chinese families in China's first-tier and second-tier cities or relatively better-off families, robots should be a common consumer product, rather than a luxury.

In this way, it seems that people like PuLi and "robots" will face a "sci-fi" question that if the future people begin to accept the company of robots since childhood, will it be possible that one day robot eventually replace humans?

"It's a challenging question, and I am actually asked a lot by the same question." PuLi told iAsk Leaders. And he gave a negative answer all the time.  "The reason is very simple.Although robots can sense the surrounding environment, and make the appropriate response, but after all it is a kind of technology products. While the human imagination and the unique creativity will not be possessed by robots or artificial intelligence for a long time." PuLi also thinks that robot can really release people from repeated labor and some simple and boring work and help people to give more play to their creativity and imaginative power.

Because of this, Pu Li told iAsk Leaders that he believed that the world of the future must be a very beautiful world for human beings and robots to participate in and create together.

And when asked by iAsk Leaders, "suppose one day humans were accidentally replaced by robots, would you recall what you are doing at this moment and blame yourself to be the contributor to the accelerated demise of humanity?" Pu Li responded with smiles, "Then I shall be condemned as a sinner through the ages. But I don’t think it will happen."

Gloria Ai: how many obstaclesare lying ahead to bring robotsinto ordinary homes?

Pu Li: in our factory, we are actually running at full capacity to produce such robots. The first step is to realize real mass production. In addition, mass production means that we must meet all certification standards of safety and reliability of the state. Only those standards are met, can our robots walk into thousands of homes.