Tokyo’s “Pepper” Is The First Emotional Humanoid Robot And Slightly Creepy

We as a society are still coming to terms with folks wearing Google Glass on their face, and eventually, we're going to have to come to grips with robots such as this walking around in parks and shopping malls. The Japanese-born robot, named Pepper, is set to go on sale early next year in Japan for just under $2,000. As of now, plans to ship it outside of Japan are still up in the air, likely due to cultural uncertainties on how nations would react to such a cutie showing up on store shelves.

The robot is described as a "cooing, gesturing humanoid on wheels," which has a special talent: it can comprehend emotions and make people smile. The unit itself is 48" tall, weighs 62 pounds, has no hair, and sports a flat-panel LCD on its chest. Softbank and Aldebaran Robotics joined up on the project, building in voice recognition, over a dozen sensors, and six lasers. That's in addition to a pair of cameras, four microphones, and inbuilt Wi-Fi/Ethernet support.

In demo scenarios, Pepper was actually pretty talkative, asking folks things like "Do you use Twitter?," and breaking out into dance when folks least expected it. In a nutshell, Softbank is hoping that folks snap Pepper up just to brighten up their home and day. It's not engineered to be a home-health robot or a maid, but instead, a robotic friend. And really, doesn't everyone need a friend?