Cell phone carrier and budding tech company Softbank presented their latest achievement – an emotive, “emotional” robot that talks and dances – in an auditorium in a Tokyo suburb recently. Presumably they chose the suburb on the outskirts of the city to minimize loss of human life if the bot went rogue.
At a planned retail price of the extremely affordable US$2,000, the robot – nicknamed “Pepper” – is actually pretty amazing in what it can do. It understands a few thousand Japanese words and can respond to humans in a conversational manner – although its responses are almost certainly prerecorded, so it’s not like the thing is going to be discussing what constitutes “being alive” with you or anything.
Pepper can apparently also pick up on human emotions through voice and facial expression analytical software and react accordingly. So when your home Pepper inevitably eats the family pet in the middle of the night, you can rest assured he will show proper remorse when scolded.
It’s not strong or agile enough to perform any useful tasks, meaning it’s strictly intended as a toy and conversational home companion. And here we were so close to finally realizing the dream of having a modern version of Rocky IV‘s Paulie:
Video of Pepper in action here: