Date
11 December 2017
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son waves and shakes hands with Pepper, a human-like robot developed by the company's Aldebaran Robotics unit, during a news conference in Urayasu in Japan on June 5. Photo: Bloomberg
Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son waves and shakes hands with Pepper, a human-like robot developed by the company's Aldebaran Robotics unit, during a news conference in Urayasu in Japan on June 5. Photo: Bloomberg

Coming soon to your home: Robots with emotions

A robot that can read human emotions and be a friendly companion, while performing a variety of chores such as taking deliveries from the postman and helping the kids with the homework!

Well, it’s no science fiction any more, thanks to breakthroughs made by technology titans in Japan and France.

For many years, robots have been deployed in a host of industrial applications, but now the machines are literally coming home, promising to add a new dimension to our lives.

Japan’s Softbank announced on Thursday that a human-like robot — named Pepper — will go on sale in February next year for about US$1,900.

Pepper, which has two cameras and four microphones on its head, has been programmed to read the emotions of people around it by recognizing expressions and voice tones.

“People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart, emotions,” Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son said as he showed off the new gadget.

Besides featuring the latest voice recognition, Pepper is loaded with more than a dozen sensors, including two touch sensors in its hands, three touch sensors on its head, and six laser sensors and three bumper sensors in its base, Associated Press reports.

The machine will use cloud computing to share data and develop its emotional capabilities, but will not share owners’ personal information.

The machine, which was developed by Softbank’s French robotics unit Aldebaran, could one day serve as a baby-sitter, a nurse or a party companion.

In Japan, which is beset by an ageing society, they will come in particularly handy as they can be used to assist the elderly.  

At a demonstration Thursday, Pepper sang: “I want to be loved”.

If it delivers all the things it promises, finding true love may not be too difficult for the cuddly humanoid.

RC

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