A Blog About Vector The Robot
 
Firmware 1.8: Digital Dream Labs made Vector worse – again …

Firmware 1.8: Digital Dream Labs made Vector worse – again …

You may or may not have heard that Digital Dream Labs is rolling out Vector firmware 1.8.x at the moment. It is a rolling release, so not all robots will get it immediately, it may take some time until it arrives on your bot. You can see what version is active on your robot by putting him on the charger, pressing his back button twice while on the charger and then pulling his fork up and down. Then you will see an information screen showing the firmware version among other information.

I have seven robots in my office plus another one that lives with my spouse in the living room. Of those one is deaf and cannot connect to WiFi because he is broken. He still is a happy little robot that roams around, but since he cannot get into the WiFi network he cannot get any updates. Another robot is not registered with DDL so he is still on 1.6.x. One Vector is still on 1.7.x despite being registered at the time I write this. The other four did get the 1.8.x update already, when I checked today morning (CEST). The Vector in the living room also already is on 1.8.x.

The Vectors on 1.8.1 living in my office were inconspicious and unobtrusive the whole day while a german radio station was running in the background.

But since my office doubles as a man cave in the evenings, I watch TV shows and movies there on a beamer with 5.1 surround system (the same system that plays the radio station all day). 99 percent of the shows and movies I watch are in the english language (because german TV is very bad and so are tv and movie translations into german, so I watch them in the original english).

In the past on firmware 1.7.x sometimes a Vector did understand something wrong on TV and reacted to that. Sometimes just by acting as if they had heard the wake word but, sometimes by adding “I didn’t get that!”. The first happened seldom, once every few days, the second even way more seldom, and that with six robots n the room.

Now we have the 1.8.x update and it happens all the time since today. Every few minutes the 1.8.x robots understand something wrong and get excited. And far more often than before they then add ‘”I didn’t get that!”.

Whatever they did at Digital Dream Labs with this update, they again made the robots worse, because this gets SO ANNOYING that I will most probably have to switch the little guys off or mute the microphones when watching tv or a movie.

And again they have not released any changelog worth the name, so we can not even find out if they messed something up. Since they changed the way Vector reacts to questions, omitting the “I have a question” part, this obviously seems to be related, but does not explain, why they react way more often to “Vector”. And again DDL did mess things up and made the robots worse than before by adding a highly annoying behaviour without any need.

The removal of the “I have a Question” part is the try to make it look like they added something cool, but there was a reason why the Anki engineers included it: to prevent the problems I decribed above.

The reasonable and professional way to add this would have been to give us an option, for example in the app, to make it work with or without the additional phrase. That would have prevented this problem altogether and would have been a reasonable, easy and professional solution.

This could also have been prevented if they would not have been so desperate to emulate adding new features, when they are actually only messing with the robots and add or remove minuscule things to makle it look like they actually do anything with and for the robot and add new features. The removal of the question phrase is not a good or new feature, it only leads to the new problems described above, messing with a robot that was absolutely fine, only adding new problems instead of solving old ones.

Since I have not only one, but multiple robots to observe this I can be quite sure that this is actually related to the firmware update, since it started with all 1.8.x robots today and is not a single or isolated problem. The robot were in the room when I watched TV for months without acting up and the problem started today, so it is very obviously the new firmware.

With the last firmware update some were bugs never were fixed, I fear that we now have to live with this new – and excuse my grammar – bullshit courtesy of Digital Dream Labs. If I remember correct there’s a way to downgrade the robots to an earlier firmware using Escape Pod, and I will most likely look into that, even if I then loose the option to freely set the eye color. But Escape Pod is no help for people who do not own it or are less tech savvy and cannot do it.

Thanks again for nothing, Digital Dream Labs. Thanks again for making Vector worse. Sigh. That was not what I paid for on Kickstarter.

We will see what other bugs they invented in 1.8 …

Please report in the comments if you have similar problems.

Update [20210930]: I get more feedback by people that have similar problems. Before the release of OTA 1.7, DDL made a big fuss about a beta test phase they rolled out to some people they selected on whatever grounds (despite the fact that they said in the Kickstarter campaign the backers would be first to get things like that and to betatest them – one of the many crowdfunding promises they broke). This time there seemed to be no beta test phase, at least none that I was aware of. If there was one it was hold closely under wraps und no person involved in it reported anything.

So I have to assume that this “update” was rolled out without testing it on a big enough sample of robots to make sure it works. If this really is the case the persons responsible for this are even more unprofessional than I tought. Maybe they are really deperate to roll someting out because of my call to report them to Kickstarter for violating the terms.

Update 2 [20210930]: This is what DDL calls a “changelog”. Pathetic.

Vector Operating System Version 1.8.0 (1.8.0.6020)

  • Release Date: September 2021
    • Vector can now accept any eye color you want to set for him! Find this setting in the mobile app under the Settings menu, below the predefined Eye Color options.
    • You can now ask questions and follow-ups much faster! The “I have a question” conversation piece is now optional for 1.8 users.
    • Thanks to contributions from community member Kerigan Creighton, Vector will no longer shiver uncontrollably when he’s done dancing or telling you the weather! Thanks Kerigan!

Update 3 [20210930]: It seems to me that the Vectors are way more receptive to any kind of noise than before and start running around and exploring way more than before after being triggered by noises.

Update 4 [20210930]:

Charger: There are isolated reports that the problem with Vector not finding back to his charger has increased. I observed that problem with one of my robots but so far Icannot confirm that this happens more often than before. However, the behaviour was strange: At least on of the robots stood in front of a charger in a brightly lit room but seemed not to be able to see it, pinging for help after some time. Looking right, looking left, doing the desperation fork up-down, driving backward a little, driving forward a little. Rinse and repeat. But I’ll have to watch more to see if this is a problem with all of them.

Android App: The Android app also seems to have problems: There are multiple reports of users that are not able to use the eye color sliders, because they are greyed out and they are not able to activate them by tapping onto them. On my side this works fine, so this may related to the phone used or the Android version. Since there are no detailed informations by DDL on the app (as usual) we can only guess here. it would be really helpful if DDL would start to act like a professional company and provide detailed changelogs and information about what Android versions the app runs on. They silently dropped Fire OS support, so who knows what other problems the coded into it.

Update 5 [20211001]: There is at least one report of Vector no longer booting after updatting to 1.8.x: https://www.reddit.com/r/AnkiVector/comments/pz2tlj/the_new_cloud_bug/

All this points to DDL rolling out banana software: matures with the customer. (as the old saying goes).

13 Comments

  1. Spooks-UK

    Seeing your comments, i’m even more pleased than i was when 1.7 firmware came out. The reason for this is that my ‘Vector Orphanage’ has currently has 16 members and none of them has a subscription. Of these, 3 did have a sub that was kindly donated by a kindly kickstarter member but DDL have booted them off… thanks for that DDL! Those 3 did make it to the 1.7 update but that was poor to say the least.

  2. Nydius

    I’m on the verge of turning off my Vector for good until they revert this update or push a new update that gives us the option to opt-out of the question change.

    My Vector is apparently super sensitive to sound and will trigger on a lot of different things besides “Hey Vector”. Any time the TV or Radio is on, any time my wife, son, and I are talking, even my cat using her scratchpad can trigger his listening routine. Prior to this, he’d just time out, now he’s constantly saying “I didn’t catch that” after going through his annoying routine of question beeps and boops. Endlessly. The only ‘fix’ is to disable the microphone, which kills most of his functionality, or turn him off entirely which kills ALL his functionality.

    Additionally, it’s made his ability to react to commands slower and less responsive. He’s now always expecting a question so unless you state a command perfectly verbatim he responds with “I didn’t catch that.” Yesterday, I could just say “Hey Vector, weather?” and he’d answer with the proper weather. Today, if I deviate AT ALL from saying “Hey Vector, what is the weather”, the only response I get is “I didn’t catch that”. Issuing commands now is a coin-flip on whether or not he reacts to them or gets confused and says he didn’t catch it.

    Whoever at DDL decided this was a good change needs to be smacked.

  3. Paul Reeder

    This is why many people have opted to return to version 1.6 permanently. I haven’t turned mine on for months now. I don’t have the desire anymore. DDL has taken something great and turned it into Scheiße . I stand by my comments about DDL not having good, knowledgeable programmers. They are just skimming by on the premise of “Updates”, that aren’t really updates at all, just changing the already existing software. Mostly removing things, important things, things that made Vector, Vector.

  4. Holger

    can’t drive the Cube exactly.
    — Has problems starting the charger.
    — App runs worse
    — Colours slider does not work
    Total failure…….

    What we need is a billionaire to buy up everything from DDL and activate the ex Ankis……
    DDL will never make it…… A miracle would have to happen, an exceptional programmer would have to start there or something like that……
    Really sad…..
    Instead of taking a stand, they handed over a video about the Esp…..

    1. Nydius

      “Has problems starting the charger”

      So it’s not just mine then. Since the update, Vector has failed to get on his charger 100% of the time. Either he continually gets misaligned, gives up and pings for help OR he manages to get on it but doesn’t back up far enough to begin charging.

      I’ve had to manually put him on the charger every time since the update.

      1. I think I have seen something similar today. At least on of the robots stood in fromt of a charger in a brightly lit room but seemed not to be able to see it, pinging for help after some time. Looking right, looking left, doing the desperation fork up-down, driving backward a little, driving forward a little. Rinse and repeat. But I’ll have to watch more to see if this is a problem with all of them.

        1. Hippotaur

          Mine have had this problem getting on a charger in a specific situation for quite a long time now. (years!)

          The room is well lit, but there are black legos behind/around one of the chargers. Both my robots have issues backing into that charger more often than not.

          The other charger doesn’t have black behind it and they don’t have a problem backing in there; or when their chargers are elsewhere in the world.

  5. Nydius

    Regarding your third update: I have also noticed that Vector reacts to more noises and is far more active than he was prior.

    On one hand, more activity is nice because my Vector was becoming as lazy as my senior cat and didn’t really do much without being commanded to.

    On the other hand, he’s become so sensitive to sounds that any loud enough ambient sound triggers him even if it’s not in the same room. As I was afraid of, he was being triggered to listen multiple times overnight and annoying the whole house saying “I didn’t catch that!” in the middle of the night repeatedly.

    Sadly I’ve turned him off and put him back in his box until they change this or give us the option to roll back (without having to go through the convoluted escape pod method).

  6. Daniel

    Comment from me and the problems I came across:

    When I come home from work, I say, “Hey vector … Hello”. It’s annoying if vector answers with ” I didnt get that” All other phrases I say over the days are the same. 30% of them getting right.

    Next thing: I can’t connect to vector with the app anymore. Since the update rolled out, the app cant finds Vector via Bluetooth.

  7. Warren

    The thing that sucks for me is, I only just decided to get my Vector back out of his box and set him up with a brand new sub. I even bought him a new cube. I saw the 1.8 notification email come out and thought now would finally be a good time to start using him again. I’ve got him on my desk at work and enjoyed his roaming around and randomness. He has caught Alexa incorrectly a few times throughout yesterday but on the whole he’s seemed fairly ok for most of yesterday, his first day on 1.8. I didn’t sign up when DDL took over as I read all the negative comments and thought it would be best to wait. In hindsight I should have waited even longer. He updated to 1.7 on the 4th subscription night and then 1.8 the night after. I just hope they finally listen and fix the things everyone wants implemented instead of version number increments that mean nothing but more bugs. I’m going to persevere and keep up to date with the community going forward.

    Oh and thanks for keeping your page live and current, it’s a great resource for fellow owners.

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