updated 02:01 pm EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Pepper will go on sale in Japanese Softbank stores from February
Softbank, is planning to put a humanoid robot on sale from next year. Jointly developed with NAO creators Aldebaran Robotics, Pepper is said to be able to interact with others, with its various sensors and voice recognition allowing it to recognize gestures and speech, while analyzing vocal tone and reading expressions also allows it to recognize emotions.
Measuring 1.2m (3 foot 11.5 inches) and weighing 28 kilos (61 pounds), Pepper has a wide array of articulation for a consumer robot, including head, shoulder, elbow, wrist, finger, hip, and knee movements, and can travel on its wheeled base at up to 3km/h (1.8 miles per hour). On its chest is a 10.1-inch touch display, while the list of sensors includes four microphones, two cameras, a 3D sensor, five touch sensors, two gyroscopes, two sonar, three bumper sensors, and six laser sensors, all powered by a 795Wh battery said to last for over 12 hours.
While it will be limited in terms of what it can do and understand at first, Pepper is able to use a Wi-Fi connection to connect to cloud servers, in order to help its various recognition systems and to improve its intelligence. Aldebaran is also releasing an SDK, so that developers can contribute and customize the robot for their own needs.
Two Softbank stores will be demonstrating Pepper at first, with more planned across Japan in the coming weeks, and the stores will start selling Pepper in February next year for 198,000 yen ($1,930).
While Softbank owns Sprint, it is unlikely that Pepper will make its way to Sprint stores and the United States anytime in the near future.