Developing Story: Softbank today announced that it will be taking preorders for the enterprise version of their Pepper robot, called “Pepper for Biz” starting October 1 this year. This comes one day after Japanese telco rival NTT launched a competing consumer robot called Sota. The enterprise model will be available on a three year rental contract, after which Softbank will reclaim the robot. During the rental period Softbank will provide phone and technical support. The monthly cost will be 55,000 JPY (~$440USD), for a total of 1,980,000 JPY (~$16,000USD) over the three years.
Yesterday a second Japanese telecommunication firm entered the consumer robot-as-a-service market when the state-owned Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) announced it would partner with its subsidiary NTT Data and robot maker Vstone to develop a tabletop companion robot that can talk and communicate with smart devices. NTT joins Softbank in the move to market networking and cloud computing services to a massive existing consumer base using consumer robotics. NTT says its Sota companion robot will cost about 100,000 JPY (~$800USD), with a monthly service fee of a few thousand JPY (~$30). UPDATE: Softbank will take pre-orders for enterprise version of Pepper starting Oct 1
The long-term rivalry between China and Japan, often characterised as the “World’s Most Dangerous Rivalry,” was exacerbated at the CIROS show held in Shanghai last week by a bowing Prime Minister Abe look-alike robot and an enterprising Chinese sales group.
SoftBank announced that their little Pepper robot will be available for sale beginning August 1st at the rate of 1,000 per month after selling out their first 1,000 Peppers in one online minute in June. They also released a new promo video that evokes Pepper’s emotional connection with people.
Japan’s power industry is currently centralized, but it aims to deregulate by around 2020. Coupled with this major structural market change, the expansion of thermal, nuclear and renewable power generation will place additional demands on the management of the country’s energy market. Researchers from the Namerikawa lab at Keio University are working with control engineers, power engineers and economists to designing mechanical and control algorithms that can manage this large-scale problem.
Researchers from the Keio Institue of Pure and Applied Sciences (KiPAS) are working to reveal the mechanism by which newly acquired knowledge and information is transmitted and evolves among organisms with intelligence. This research is being done through pseudo-augmentation of body structures using a brain-machine interface, to investigate the process by which groups of individuals adapt to novel bodies and environments, using methods from the natural sciences.
At JIMTOF 2014, Sugino Machine unveiled the JCC503 Robo, a CNC precision washer that positions parts with a numerically-controlled robotic arm and utilizes a high pressure washer to remove chips as small as 0.6 mm generated during machining processes.
With the majority of stepping motors, a backup battery is needed to store position data, and because batteries have a limited life, data can’t be stored for a long time. But the AZ Series doesn’t need a battery, so storing data isn’t a concern, even if the production equipment is stopped for a long time, or the unit is shipped overseas.
At the Morita Lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Keio University Faculty of Science, researchers are advancing with research and development of unique robots from the perspective of mechanisms, control, skill, and an integration of each of these areas.