French company Aldebaran robotics unveiled this week its new robot, a friendly humanoid named Pepper who talks, gesticulates, zips by on wheels and has an “emotion engine,” designed to understand how people are feeling and react accordingly. The goal was “to give the robot a heart”.
Pepper will learn on its own and the robots deployed at SoftBank stores in Tokyo will start collecting data on their interactions with people. When Pepper tells a joke, it will observe if people laugh, for example. The robots will upload their data to a cloud-based repository. This “cloud AI,” as it is called, will use the combined data to improve Pepper’s behavior. “The robot is going to evolve through this collective wisdom,” he said. As Pepper’s technology improves, SoftBank envisions the robot entertaining people at parties, playing with children, and keeping company to the elderly.
The robot is 1.2 meter tall and weighs 28 kilograms, and it carries a 10.1-inch touch screen on its chest. It has 20 motors and can move its head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, and knees. Aldebaran developed a proprietary mechanism to measure electrical current consumption on each motor, allowing the robot to detect forces on its body. In addition, Hall effect sensors are used for motor positioning.
The robot’s head has four microphones, two HD cameras (in the mouth and forehead), and a 3-D depth sensor (behind the eyes). There’s a gyroscope in the torso and touch sensors in the head and hands. The mobile base has two sonars, six lasers, three bumper sensors, and a gyro, and it can drive at up to 3 kilometers per hour.
The robot spoke only in Japanese at the demo, but it can also speak English, French, and Spanish. Pepper’s battery operates for up to 12 hours, though in the future that may change if Aldebaran equips the robot with legs, a possibility that was mentioned at the event.
Aldebaran built the robot for SoftBank, the Japanese telecom giant, which plans to start selling it to consumers in Japan next February for 198,000 yen - US $1,900. The robot will be produced by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, the company which makes iPhones and other Apple products.
Here is a first video and below the press release by Aldebaran.
The latest creation from Aldebaran Robotics is called Pepper and it is the first robot designed to live with humans. At the risk of disappointing you, he doesn't clean, doesn't cook and doesn't have super powers... But he talks, can read your emotions, move and live autonomously.
Engaging and friendly, Pepper is much more than a robot, he’s a companion able to communicate with you through the most intuitive interface we know: voice, touch and emotions.
AN EMOTIONAL COMPANION
Pepper tries to understand your emotions. If you burst out laughing, he will know you are in a good mood. If you frown, Pepper will understand that something is bothering you.
Pepper knows what state you are in, using his knowledge of universal emotions (joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness) and his ability to analyse your facial expression, your body language and the words you use. He will guess your mood, and will even adapt to it. For example, he will try to cheer you up by playing your favourite song!
Pepper also can express emotions, and this is what makes him so cute! He has a real personality, expressed by his body language, his funny gestures or his voice.
AN INTERACTIVE AND EVOLUTIVE COMPANION
Peppers loves to talk with humans, he's very curious about us! As you go along, Pepper will recognise you, and learn new things about your tastes. Capable of adaptation and self-improvement, he will soon be able to search for new applications to surprise and entertain you!
Pepper's goal is to learn and grow step by step so that one day he can be your companion at home. Today, he's not perfect but he has been created to allow all developers and creatives to make him evolve!
Our goal at Aldebaran is to create robots for the well being of humans, kind robots living with humans as a new artificial species. In order to realise this dream, it's not enough to simply have Pepper working at SoftBank stores. The ultimate goal is for Pepper to live with humans, the stores are just the beginning...
CNN did a special report on Pepper and here is the CNN video.