Not all generations will remember The Jetsons, but those that do immediately think of Rosie, the robot maid, anytime a lifelike, lovable robot is mentioned. In the futuristic Jetsons cartoon, Rosie is an outdated robot that shows humanlike emotion while she does trivial chores around the Jetsons’ house. She helps with homework and dispenses medicine, all-in-all making life easier. So, what would it be like to have Rosie in your house? For just over $1900 anyone can find out!
The company Aldebaran by SoftBank Group has announced that starting in 2015 they will have an accessible humanized robot available to consumers. They have named him Pepper, and he is designed to live with humans and respond emotionally. He is not magic, however. He will not accomplish any daily chores like laundry, vacuuming or dishes like Rosie did for the Jetsons. However, Pepper does promise to offer entertainment, companionship and something pretty cool.
Using special NAO technology, Pepper will evolve to know when his people are happy, or he will play a favorite song to cheer his people up when they are sad. He will respond to real-life events like bad news, a surprise party, or excitement from a promotion at work. He will read human emotions by watching and interacting with human beings. Pepper will even impress friends and colleagues by saying hello and playing a current playlist of songs. The best part about Pepper? He will never talk back, which is more than most people can say about typical house guests.
The owner of the telecommunications company and idea behind this homebase robot is Masayoshi Son. This project was powered by his love for his favorite childhood Manga cartoon Astro Boy. Similar to The Jetsons, Astro Boy is set in the future where robots co-exist with humans, go on adventures, solve problems, and have humanized emotions. Pepper even looks similar to Astro Boy with big, wide characterized eyes and sweet smile. A 25-year dream has become a reality for Son. Although Sony, Toyota, and Honda are also on the robot race and have robots that dance and play music, Son’s robot is unique, because it will be made available and affordable to the general public. Son says buying Pepper will be like buying a pet. At a price similar to home computers, many families and homes will easily be able to welcome Pepper as a new companion.
At a news conference Son said that Pepper is powered by love and created to behave independently. Sons desire is for robots to minimize sadness and help people all over the world, believing robots will change the way we live and the way we communicate. Pepper will also change and adapt with new programs designed to continually improve communication, responses and interaction.
After watching The Jetsons, or reading Astro Boy, or having any interest in technology, it is almost impossible to hide excitement about Pepper and the possibility that many childhood dreams are about to come true. Not only are robots a reality, they will be in homes in no time. Robots are the future and with releases promised by Aldebaran and the Softbank Group in 2015, the future opportunities are endless. Start saving paychecks!
By Lindsay LaRowe