The future is here as far as robotics is concerned, no more fiddling around in labs where personal robots and interactions with humans are desired.
Enter, 'Pepper,' a humanoid robot that takes its surroundings into consideration to react proactively using proprietary algorithms. Pepper also comes equipped with capabilities and an interface that enables communication with people, to include the latest voice and recognition technology, superior joint technology to present graceful gestures, as well as emotion recognition that analyzes both expressions and voice tones.
With the technologies behind Pepper, people can enjoy communicating with the robot in a natural way, just as they would with family members or friends. Pepper has the ability to dance, make jokes and amuse people through a large variety of entertainment capabilities. Some of these capabilities were developed in cooperation with Yoshimoto Robotics Laboratory Inc. The capabilities that help Pepper evolve by learning through daily interactions with people are being planned for the commercial launch of the robot.
In addition, a number of applications created by developers around the world, robot applications - or programs that may be incorporated into Pepper's various capabilities, include motion, conversation and sensors that are scheduled to expand the capabilities of the robot.
The Aldebaran software development kit (SDK) will be provided for the creation of robot applications. In September of 2014, a Tech Festival in Tokyo is being planned to provide technical specifications, development methods, as well as other details.
Masayoshi Son, the Chairman and CEO of SoftBank stated:
"Since foundation, we have followed our corporate philosophy of 'Information Revolution - Happiness for everyone.' To realize our vision, we have made a new entry into the robot business with the aim of developing affectionate robots that make people smile. Using emotion engines and Cloud AI, which evolves with collective wisdom, we're making this happen. As our first entry, we are pleased to offer the world's first personal robot that reads emotions, Pepper, which we developed with Aldebaran."
Over the last nine years, Bruno Maisonnier - the Founder and CEO of Aldebaran, believed the most important role of robots will be as kind and emotional companions that enhance people's daily lives. He says the emotional robot will create a new dimension in people's lives, as well as new ways of interacting with technology. Bruno believes Pepper is just the beginning, yet a promising reality. He says that thanks to Pepper, the future starts right now; today, and he wants everyone to be involved.
Pepper has some incredible features that are planned. The robot's features are ones meant to enhance interactions with people, making it a companion with a number of capabilities.
|Planned Main Features of the Pepper Robot Include:|
|Additional safety features|
|Uses sensors to avoid collisions|
|More than 12 hours of battery life|
|Has, 'autobalance,' to prevent falls|
|Judges situations with an array of sensors|
|Gracefully articulates with a high degree of freedom|
|Incorporates proprietary algorithms to control applications autonomously|
|Pepper's capabilities are expandable by installing new types of robot applications|
|Estimates emotions based upon voice tones and expressions using emotion recognition functions|
|Can acquire various types of information and synchronize with cloud-based databases through an Internet connection|
Aldebaran's SDK will also be provided for a wider range of applications - from simple movements to advanced customizations using widely available programming languages.
Bruno Maisonnier founded Aldebaran Robotics in the year 2005. The company has offices in China, France, Japan and America. Aldebaran designs, produces and sells autonomous humanoid robots with the goal of contributing to the well-being of people.
Today over 5,000 NAO, the company's first product, are used around the world as research and educational platforms in 70 nations. Aldebaran brings together more than 500 people who are involved in the development and production of robots. Aldebaran is a SoftBank Group company.
The SoftBank Group comprises the pure holding company, 'SoftBank Corporation,' and its greater than 1,300 subsidiaries and affiliates that offer a comprehensive range of mobile communications, Internet services and fixed-line communications. With Sprint joining in July of 2013, the SoftBank Group became a leading global carrier that now has more than 100 million subscribers. Maximizing synergies across its Group companies around the world, SoftBank hopes to realize lifestyle innovation through information technology (IT). The SoftBank Group is also encouraging the adoption of safe and clean energy through its own business activities. The market for their products continues to grow.
Japan has one of the world's largest markets for robots. By some estimates, Japan's overall robotics market was worth around $8.4 billion in the year 2012. With a rapidly aging population, along with a falling birth rate, the demand for robots is expected to increase.
The market growth is expected to come not only from businesses desiring to offset increasing wage costs and labor shortages, but from households looking for an alternative to paying for care providers for senior relatives. Japanese care maker Honda has also been developing a robot for the home named, 'Asimo.' President Obama actually played football with Asimo during a visit to Japan. ActiveLink, a robotics research subsidiary of electronics firm Panasonic, has developed technology to assist people with carrying out manual tasks. One can only wonder how long it will be before robots are in a number of homes around the world.