June 6, 2014
Need a friend? SoftBank has one for you.
His name is Pepper and he is a robot capable of deciphering emotions.
This is a robot that can tell if you’ve had a bad day and are feeling stressed or if you’re feeling sad and need a shoulder to cry on.
Japanese mobile operator SoftBank acquired Aldebaran Robotics — a company “creating kind and emotional robots that can communicate with people and meet their emotional needs” — in 2012 to further its vision of a human-like robot.
Aldebaran CEO Bruno Maisonnier said Pepper has been almost a decade in the making and SoftBank’s funding is making the dream a reality.
“For the past nine years, I’ve believed that the most important role of robots will be as kind and emotional companions to enhance our daily lives, to bring happiness, constantly surprise us, and make people grow,” Maisonnier said. “The emotional robot will create a new dimension in our lives and new ways of interacting with technology. It’s just the beginning, but already a promising reality. Thanks to Pepper, the future begins today and we want all of you to be a part of it.”
Pepper’s emotion recognition technology means it can communicate with people as naturally as they would with a friend or family member. Pepper can also make jokes, dance and amuse people thanks to some groovy entertainment technology developed with Yoshimoto Robotics Laboratory.
Other attributes planned for Pepper include:
- The ability to judge situations with an array of sensors, incorporates proprietary algorithms to control applications autonomously
- The ability to estimate emotions based on expressions and voice tones using emotion recognition functions
- More than 12 continuous hours of battery life
- The ability to articulate gracefully with a high degree of freedom thanks to proprietarily developed joints
- The ability to acquire various types of information and synchronize with cloud-based databases through an Internet connection
- Use of sensors to avoid collisions and has autobalance to prevent falls, among other various safety features
- Expandable capabilities by installing various new types of robot apps
- Aldebaran’s software development kit (SDK) will be provided for a wide range of applications, from simple movements to advanced customization using widely available programming languages
Pepper is scheduled to hit the market in February 2015 for a base price of $1,935 U.S.
Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.