SoftBank + Aldebaran = Pepper
The latest creation from Aldebaran Robotics – Pepper – is designed to live with humans. It doesn’t clean or cook but it talks, is mobile, can read emotions, and reacts autonomously to “make people happy.”
Pepper was created specifically for SoftBank and the Japanese market, and is designed to be engaging and friendly, a companion able to communicate through an intuitive artificial intelligence interface that reads and interprets voice, touch and emotions. It has two arms and rolls around on wheels. It is 47 inches tall and weighs around 60 pounds.
Pepper can already be seen greeting customers in two SoftBank stores in Japan and will be available for purchase beginning February, 2015 at a price of $1,925 (198,000 Japanese yen) (apps and monthly subscription fees not included). Pepper will have 12 hours of battery life.
UPDATE June 10, 2014 To achieve the low price point that Softbank wanted for Pepper, Aldebaran chose Foxconn as their manufacturing partner.
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. Programmed to understand joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness by analyzing facial expressions, body language and spoken words, Pepper can also express emotions by body language, funny gestures or his voice.”
Pepper can make jokes, dance and amuse people thanks to a wide variety of entertainment capabilities, some of which are being developed in cooperation with start-up Yoshimoto Robotics Laboratory, Inc., a Yoshimoto Kogyo Group company. Aldebaran is continuing to work to let Pepper have the capability to learn through daily interactions with people – a feature planned for the commercial launch.
A variety of applications created by developers around the world are also scheduled to be available by the launch date. The Aldebaran software development kit (SDK) will be provided for creating Pepper apps, and this coming September, a Tech Festival is planned to provide specifications, development methods and other details to give developers a head start to be ready for Pepper’s February, 2015 launch.
SoftBank provides a range of mobile and fixed-line communications and Internet services. SoftBank acquired Sprint in 2013 and became a leading global carrier with over 100 million subscribers.
In 2012, SoftBank acquired 78.5% of Aldebaran Robotics (of Nao and Romeo fame), a fact that has been hidden to the public until now. Pepper is their first joint effort – and it is a very ambitious and extensive one. SoftBank’s extended vision for Pepper can be seen in this promotional document: