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Emotion-reading Pepper personal robot set for 2015 release

By

June 10, 2014

Pepper is a personal robot that can gauge human emotions for more natural human/robot inte...

Pepper is a personal robot that can gauge human emotions for more natural human/robot interaction

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One thing that allows human beings to live together is their ability to read one another’s emotions before the frying pans start to fly. If personal robots are to join the household, they’ll have to learn how to deal with emotions as well. Pepper is a semi-humanoid robot designed to do just that, with the ability to gauge human emotions and alter its behavior accordingly as a way to better fit into family life.

Pepper was jointly developed by SoftBank Mobile and Aldebaran Robotics SAS, which is the company responsible for the NAO and NAO Next Gen humanoid robots. Looking like an affable plastic anime character, the robot stands 121 cm (47.6 in) tall and weighs 28 kg (61.7 lb). Being an indoor robot, it travels at a leisurely 3 km/h (1.8 mph), with its joints designed for graceful movement to allow it to communicate with families in a natural manner.

To help it interact with those around it, Pepper is equipped with a suite of sensors that includes four microphones, a pair of color video cameras, 3D sensor, touch sensors, bump sensors, lasers, sonar, and gyros positioned in the head, body, arms, and legs. It also boasts voice recognition capabilities and features a 10.1-in touchscreen display on its chest, while an in built Wi-Fi module keeps it connected to the internet.

Pepper is designed for graceful movement and easy interaction

SoftBank Mobile says that Pepper makes jokes, dances, and generally amuses thanks to software developed by Yoshimoto Robotics Laboratory, Inc. It can run for around 12 hours on its lithium-ion battery, and has auto balance capabilities, along with anti-collision and safety features.

Pepper is programmed to study what is going on in its vicinity and react appropriately based on its proprietary algorithms and information drawn from a continually evolving cloud-based database. According to SoftBank Mobile, the robot is capable of emotion recognition by gauging expressions and voice tones, and it can modify its behavior based on what it sees and hears. In addition, by the time of its commercial launch, the company says it will also have the ability to learn through experience. It will also be able to run apps that will allow Pepper's capabilities to be expanded.

Pepper is currently on display at the SoftBank Omotesando and SoftBank Ginza stores in Japan, where visitors can talk and interact with the robot, with SoftBank Mobile planning to introduce Pepper to other stores throughout the country in the future. In September, the company will release the Aldebaran software development kit to help third parties create new apps and aid in Pepper’s development.

Pepper will be on sale in Japan in February2015 at a base price of ¥198,000 (US$1,900).

Source: SoftBank Mobile

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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5 Comments

*sigh* I'll never understand why they always take on solving things like understanding human emotions rather than focusing on simpler but useful things like mobility and navigation.

I think it would be cooler if it could get the door or seat a table of 3 and hand them menus or something.

Daishi
11th June, 2014 @ 01:21 am PDT

...but does it come with Pepper Spray? Police Departments and Homeland Security want to know. I see that a Smart Phone does.

We are coming closer and closer to what was projected to have happened in the Year 2000. Robo Cop, West World, The Terminator, Magnus Robot Fighter... it is coming.

"Hello Citizen. What is your name? Dave? Dave you seem to be agitated, and I detect fear. This is not a good thing Dave. Please submit... you have 10 seconds Dave to submit..."

lwesson
11th June, 2014 @ 09:00 am PDT

If you want to get rich make a robot that can iron shirts!

warren52nz
11th June, 2014 @ 02:15 pm PDT

React appropriately ass, if I drop a can of soda is it going to clean it up for me? No. name one practical use for this thing. Stop letting the marketing department oversee design and let engineers build the thing to DO SOMETHING. It's not like we don't have the tech to do it ffs. Bottom line, STOP PUTTING MORONS IN CHARGE OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT.

coresnake
13th June, 2014 @ 04:37 pm PDT

The robot looks angry and the girl lloks like she's trying not show fear...

Does it have its appendage raised because it is preparing to cave in her skull?

Joseph Boe
16th June, 2014 @ 08:54 am PDT
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