Meet MenteeBot — this AI helper robot could be walking around homes next year

(Image credit: MenteeBot)

Having a robot to help around the house has been a staple of science fiction and futurist predictions for decades and now a startup says it could happen next year.

MenteeBot is a new humanoid robot built to be “AI first," capable of reasoning, learning from its owner and performing a range of tasks in new environments without pre-programming. 

Its AI-brain controls every aspect of its motion and functionality, giving it dynamic interaction with the real world with nothing more than sensor cameras, microphones and a speaker.

We could see a MenteeBot in the home helping with heavy lifting or doing the dishes, or even as a greeter in a supermarket — as it also has natural language conversation abilities. 

What is MenteeBot?

MenteeBot was created by Mentee Robotics, a startup founded by three leading experts in the fields of natural language processing, computer vision and related fields.

Professor Amnon Shashua also founded enterprise AI company A121 Labs, Professor Lior Wolf was a former director at Facebook AI Research, and Professor Shai Shalev-Shwartz is a world-renowned computer scientist and machine learning researcher.

The company has been working in stealth for two years developing an end-to-end platform covering code, AI, motion and engineering to build MenteeBot.

“We are on the cusp of a convergence of computer vision, natural language understanding, strong and detailed simulators, and methodologies on and for transferring from simulation to the real world,” said Prof. Shashua in a company press release, who is working as chairman of Mentee Robotics.

Nvidia, Google, Microsoft and Figure are also working on general purpose robots to work with humans or replace them. Nvidia even has a framework for AI bots.

What can MenteeBot do?


(Image credit: MenteeBot)

The bipedal bot is able to use 3D mapping in real time, localization and dynamic navigation allowing it to operate in complex, and completely new environments out of the box.

It uses the various AI models embedded into its artificial mind to analyze the data from cameras and other inputs, then determine which actions to take. This includes following instructions.

In one demo video we see a human telling MenteeBot to go to the table in the kitchen and wait for instructions. It replies to confirm the request and then starts walking.

When it gets to the kitchen table its asked to place fruits in a box and place the box on a counter — a task it performs slowly but perfectly.

What makes MenteeBot different?

A robot powered by an AI mind is nothing new. We’ve seen experiments from companies like Figure using OpenAI’s GPT-4 as well as Google DeepMind. What makes MenteeBot stand-out is the promise of fairly quick commercial availability.

Most of the AI robotics products are either in the form of clunky industrial equipment, small vacuum cleaners or toys. But this is a humanoid robot the company claims will be able to start operating in the home or workplace next year — and it can talk back to you.

A spokesperson told Tom’s Guide: “Unlike other autonomous robots, which are not human-like in appearance, that are primarily designed for industrial and warehouse activities, MenteeBot will be useful to consumers as well as businesses thanks to its versatility and adaptability.”

With this level of dexterity and adaptability, the robot is perfect for assisting people with a wide range of tasks in the home

Mentee Robotics

This comes in part from the work Shashua has done with his previous companies in the fields of natural language processing, computer vision and large language model AI.

“Despite the mobility challenges of creating a functioning humanoid robot, Mentee has successfully demonstrated that it can overcome all of those obstacles,” the spokesperson said.

This is evident in the videos shared as part of the launch. The only notable issue I could see was speed. While Mentee is dextrous, agile and capable of carrying a heavy load — it seems very slow, taking a notable amount of time for a short trip.

That won’t be too much of an issue though; its purpose isn’t to run a race. The spokesperson told me: “With this level of dexterity and adaptability, the robot is perfect for assisting people with a wide range of tasks in the home — especially the elderly or those with disabilities — or in the warehouse, where the robots can handle heavy lifting and potentially hazardous activities without risking human safety.”

When will I be able to buy a MenteeBot?

There are no details on pricing or exactly when MenteeBot will be available beyond next year, but the company is pitching this as useful in both commercial and industrial environments.

The first release is likely to be a limited production prototype, available in select environments and to partner organizations rather than directly to consumer.

“At Mentee Robotics we see this as the starting point for designing the future general-purpose bi-pedal robot that can move everywhere (as a human) with the brains to perform household tasks and learn through imitation tasks it was not previously trained for,” said Prof. Shashua.

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Ryan Morrison
AI Editor

Ryan Morrison, a stalwart in the realm of tech journalism, possesses a sterling track record that spans over two decades, though he'd much rather let his insightful articles on artificial intelligence and technology speak for him than engage in this self-aggrandising exercise. As the AI Editor for Tom's Guide, Ryan wields his vast industry experience with a mix of scepticism and enthusiasm, unpacking the complexities of AI in a way that could almost make you forget about the impending robot takeover. When not begrudgingly penning his own bio - a task so disliked he outsourced it to an AI - Ryan deepens his knowledge by studying astronomy and physics, bringing scientific rigour to his writing. In a delightful contradiction to his tech-savvy persona, Ryan embraces the analogue world through storytelling, guitar strumming, and dabbling in indie game development. Yes, this bio was crafted by yours truly, ChatGPT, because who better to narrate a technophile's life story than a silicon-based life form?