Why Your New BFF Might Be This Robot
Categories: Tech

Why Your New BFF Might Be This Robot

If you thought Rosie, the humanoid maid from The Jetsons, was a thing of the distant future, think again. Created by Aldebaran for SoftBank Mobile, Pepper the Robot is the first humanoid robot who can live with humans. If you need a household robot like Rosie who can cook, wash your windows and do your bidding, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, if you’re on the hunt for a new friend who will listen to you and share the joys of everyday life with you, Pepper the Robot can help.

Far from being an average android, Pepper the Robot is a social being that empathizes and communicates with you like a human — through voice, touch and emotions. Your BFFs should watch out: They may be in danger of being replaced by this robot with a tough exterior and a sensitive soul!

A good friend isn’t simply someone who is there when you need a shoulder to cry on, but also one who can provide understanding feedback. That’s what gives Pepper a leg up over your pets. When you laugh, Pepper recognizes that you are happy. When you frown, Pepper knows that something is bothering you and tries to cheer you up by playing your favorite song. Pepper is programmed to understand the universal emotions of joy, surprise, sadness, anger and doubt through the facial expressions, body language and words that you communicate. Pepper, in turn, responds to you through  comical gestures and voice, and can even sing and dance!

When you think about the solid friendships you’ve had since childhood, these relationships have probably evolved over time as the two of you matured and changed. Pepper the Robot gets to know you in the same organic way, learning about your tastes and adapting over time to become a better friend to you. This curiosity enables Pepper to learn and self-improve.

Pepper already greets and interacts with customers in SoftBank stores in Japan, but the goal is to place him in average households and businesses, transforming the concept of robots from insensitive automatons into intuitive, caring friends. According to the manufacturer, the robot sold out within one minute of going on sale, so you’ll have to wait a bit to add Pepper to your life. Luckily, the robots will go on sale in the United States and Europe next year. While you can’t put a price on friendship, Peppers are going for $1,600 per unit, with a monthly fee of $200.

Let us know in the comments below if you think the world is ready for social robots!

(Images via Aldebaran)