Pepper Robots May Be the Eyes, Ears and Voice of an Autonomous Future
So, your plans after retirement included a part-time job as a greeter at Walmart? Not so fast! Unless you are willing to learn dozens of languages and truly love to interact with people, your competition may one-up you. SoftBank Robotics, creators of the most humanoid robot in existence, has placed Pepper in hundreds of locations in Japan. The thirty-five year old multinational telecommunications giant put their Pepper robots to work a couple of years ago greeting shoppers at Softbank Mobile stores.
According to the human resource department, Pepper has HD cameras in the mouth and forehead and a 3-D sensor behind its eyes. There are also four microphones in the head for input and output. Pepper's mobile base uses two sonar devices, six lasers, three bumper sensors and gyroscope in the torso. Both the head and hands have touch sensors. Like human greeters, Pepper is able to analyze human expressions and vocal tones and respond accordingly.
Although not developed as a functional robot for domestic use, SoftBank equipped the talking robot with features designed to make people happy by recognizing their face and speech as well as having Pepper move about autonomously. The software allows the humanoid to memorize your personality traits, preferences and adapt to your tastes and habits. By responding to your mood, the robot expresses himself through his eyes, built-in tablet and vocal tones. More importantly for the global marketplace, Pepper is a polyglot and can communicate very effectively in many languages.
So, where is Pepper likely to show up next? Everywhere would be the most appropriate answer. SoftBank announced this week that the company has struck a deal to buy as much as a $10 billion chunk of Uber. Although the capital investment is said to help the San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant fend off a current pricing war with Lyft, you need to know that SoftBank has a 300-year plan for worldwide business dominance in the information industry. Some analyst guess that the company's humanoid technology may be the eyes, ears and voice of a world filled with autonomous vehicles.
Editorial photo courtesy of dreamstime.com