In June 2017, when Misty Robotics spun out of Colorado-based startup Sphero — the folks behind the eponymous Sphero toy series, a motorized R2-D2, and a miniature replica of Lightning McQueen from Disney’s Cars franchise — it announced intentions to develop a “mainstream” home robot with the help of hobbyists, enthusiasts, and crowdfunding backers. With $11.5 million in capital from Venrock and Foundry Group in the bank, the team wasted no time in getting to work. And the startup unveiled the first fruits of its 11-month labor — a robotic development platform called Misty I — at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

In May, Misty Robotics took the wraps off the second iteration of its robot — Misty II — and made 1,500 units available for preorder, starting at $1,499. (The first units are expected to ship by December 4.) The robot weighs in at six pounds, stands 14 inches tall, and packs electronics like a 4K Sony camera, a 4.3-inch LCD display, two hi-fi speakers, eight time-of-flight sensors, and three far-field microphone arrays. It’ll work with third-party services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cognitive Services, and the Google Assistant when it launches and will allow owners to create custom programs and routines — including ones that tap into machine learning frameworks like Google’s TensorFlow and Facebook’s Caffe2.

Misty Robotics isn’t exactly rushing to market. It has a 10-year plan, and it’s taking a hands-on approach to development. While a few preprogrammed skills (like autonomous driving and voice recognition) are available on GitHub, the idea is…

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