CES 2021: Family Firewalls, Flying Cars, and Creepy Pet Robots

Originally published at: CES 2021: Family Firewalls, Flying Cars, and Creepy Pet Robots - TidBITS

Jeff Porten reviews some of the offerings at a perennial sideshow at CES to tell you about AI-based lie detection, another flying car you can’t have yet, and how the robot revolution may be starting with Japanese “pets.”


Eek! Yes, you’re right. Editing now.

Jeff, great article — glad you’ve caught the ¥ issue… :slight_smile:

Stern announced the Led Zeppelin pinball on their YouTube channel about a month ago. Four videos: a trailer, the basic model, the “pro” model, and optional accessories.

The robot pet reminds me of the old PetSter robot from Axlon.

Axlon was founded by Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari. According to an interview I read at the time, he was working on AI research. He concluded that human-level AI is beyond the capability of computers, but it should be possible to program small animal AI and sold the PetSters as an embodiment of this tech.

I don’t think he succeeded as an AI project, but it is a cute toy.

I’d think the major problem with Skydrive wouldn’t be how many miles it gets per charge, but the multiple exposed propellers! Flying cars were supposed to use jets, not props, sort of like we were all ‘promised’ in the ‘70s to have personal jet packs by now, not personal ‘prop packs’, aka ‘friend decapitators’!

You should visit a jet test stand. Even a very small jet (like the 4" toy jet you’d use to fly a model aircraft) is very loud. I mean very seriously painfully loud.

High-bypass turbofan jet engines, as efficient as they are, are just really damn loud, which unfortunately is basically true of pretty much all gas turbines. Whatever your personal flying car will eventually look like, based on noise alone I can virtually guarantee it won’t be operated by a jet turbine. And I say this as a big fan of the Trent XWB.

It’s entertaining to see commercial jet manufacturers’ marketing material. When they talk about “whisper quiet engines” what they’re referring to is essentially 787-8 vs. 707-220. While that is no doubt a massive improvement (not just in terms of noise of course), it’s still easily plenty noisy to send blood shooting out your ears if you’d approach its business end at load without some serious PPE.

This is interesting—the last survey got about 700 responses, but this one is only at 64 so far. Was the change in question—“did you enjoy reading about these products”—so much less engaging than the last one—“would you actually use any of these products in real life”?