If there’s any country on the face of the earth that loves robots more than Japan, it’s a country I’ve never heard of. The Japanese are obsessed with robots, and that obsession is not going away any time soon. Japanese robots sing pop tunes. Other Japanese robots go to the moon. If you can design a robot to do something, Japan has either done it or they are actively working on it. Given the country’s increasingly elderly population, though, one thing the Japanese may need robots to do more than anything else is be companions. Hence the creation of Pepper, a cute Japanese robot capable of expressing emotions. Or at least pantomiming emotions.
“Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile,” said Masayoshi Son, whose cell phone company Softbank is behind Pepper.
Pepper is more than just a cuddly little plastic friend, the 4-foot-tall, 62-pound robot has been programmed to read emotions on faces and in voice tones and respond accordingly. If you’re down, Pepper may tell you a joke or sing you a song. Pepper can also dance and perform other simple, amusing tasks. He features two large eyes and a panel on his chest, though he doesn’t have any hair (yet) or a disturbing mouth. Pepper was produced by Aldebaran Robotics, a company that specializes in humanoid robot technology, typically for research and academic purposes.
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