The humanoid robot Pepper is the invention of the joint contribution of the Japanese-based company SoftBank, Foxconn Technology and China’s Alibaba. It is the first robot of its kind and it is also the first time when a robot was made available for general consumers.
Pepper was released on the market on June 20 in Japan. Within one minute after the release all the 1.000 units were sold. The base price of the device was of 1.600 dollars (198.000 yens), but the customers had to pay extra for the monthly data and the insurance fee which cost 200 dollars (24.600 yens).
The robot is provided with a tablet which shows its emotions. It was designed especially for human interaction. It is an emotional robot and it is not designed to do household chores such as washing the dishes. Pepper FAQ from the website of Aldebaran SAS, the French robotics company with which SoftBank collaborated, says that the robot can help people grow by enhancing their life and making relationships easier. Pepper can offer you some services, entertain you and connect you with the outside world.
The device is under four feet tall and weighs 61 pounds. You’re probably wondering how a robot could interact with humans. Besides the tablet which displays the robot’s own feelings Pepper is provided with an endocrine-type neural network which has multiple layers. In addition the device has touch sensors, and cameras. All of these allow it to both develop emotions and read them. Depending on how the robot is treated and how he interacts with the people around it, it can develop its own personality. Pepper is able to read emotions by processing words, voice tones and facial expressions.
Its developers admit that Pepper might make some mistakes in the beginning, but it will refine itself in time, as other prototypes will appear.
SoftBank CEO, Masayoshi Son, expects that the robot will bring profit in the fifth year of selling because the process of manufacturing is more costly than the price at which the device sells. The company intends to keep the price of Pepper affordable, close to the price of a pet dog.
The release of the robot will be staggered and the company will produce no more than 1.000 units per month. The next release will be in July. Currently the robot can speak Japanese, English, French and Spanish, but more languages will be made available in its app sore in the following months.
Image Source: Popular Science