SoftBank Robotics Corp. and SoftBank Mobile Corp. announced that “Pepper,” the world’s first personal robot that reportedly can read emotions, went on sale in Japan starting June 20, 2015. With 1,000 units available for purchase in the month of June, additional shipments of Pepper will follow from July onward.
Pepper will not only be able to read emotions—Pepper has evolved to have emotions. Pepper’s emotions use functions developed by cocoro SB Corp. that enable robots to artificially generate their own emotions. These emotion functions in Pepper are modeled on the human release of hormones in response to stimuli absorbed by the five senses, which in turn generate emotions. In addition to Pepper’s emotion recognition functions, Pepper has capabilities to generate emotions autonomously by processing information from his cameras, touch sensors, accelerometer, and other sensors within his “endocrine-type multi-layer neural network.”
With this emotion function, Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings, which in turn affects Pepper’s words and actions. For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.
Depending on the emotion at the time, Pepper raises his voice or sighs, for example. Pepper’s emotions can be seen on the heart display, which shows different colors and movements. Furthermore, a number of robot apps have been developed to make life fun with an emotional robot. “Pepper's Diary,” for example, links Pepper’s emotions with daily family events that are recorded with pictures and photos.
With the sales launch, approximately 200 robot apps were made available for download from the app store in addition to the pre-installed basic apps. Special robot apps that can be acquired by using “cocorogumi,” which are obtained by spending time with Pepper, will also be available. SoftBank plans to expand the lineup of robot apps.
This autumn, SoftBank plans to launch a dedicated model for enterprises, “Pepper for Biz.” Details will be announced at SoftBank World 2015, which will be held in July. Furthermore, a developer program beta version service for developing and distributing Pepper applications will be offered by Aldebaran, the joint developer of Pepper and subsidiary of SoftBank Group in France, starting from early July. Details can be found here (http://www.softbank.jp/robot/developer/program/).
Price, price plans
Base price: 198,000 yen (approximately $1,600 U.S.)
Pepper Basic Plan: 14,800 yen ($120 U.S.) × 36 months (payment installments)
Pepper Insurance Pack: 9,800 yen ($80 U.S.) × 36 months (payment installments)
*A separate robot charge (9,800 yen) is required. Basic Plan, Pepper Insurance Pack can be paid with a 36 installment contract or at once.
*Standalone purchases can only be applied for at shops.
*Above prices are for a one-time payment of the Pepper base price and payment installments for Pepper Basic Plan and Pepper Insurance Pack.
Dimensions: 1210mm × 480mm × 425mm
Battery: Lithium-ion battery
Operation time: approx. over 12 hours*
Mic × 4, RGB camera × 2, 3D sensor × 1
Touch sensor × 3
Chest Gyro sensor × 1
Hands Touch sensor × 2
Sonar sensor × 2, Laser sensor × 6
Bumper sensor × 3, Gyro sensor × 1, Infrared sensor × 2
Degrees of motion
Head (2°), Shoulder (2°) (L&R), Elbow (2 rotations) (L&R), Wrist (1°)
(L&R), Hand 5 fingers (1°) (L&R), Hip (2°), Knee (1°), Base (3°)
Display: 10.1-inch touch display
Platform: NAOqi OS
Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Ethernet port × 1 (10/100/1000 base T)
Motion speed Up to 2km/h
Climbing Up to 1.5cm