This amazing time lapse video doesn’t really need much of an introduction. It is just brilliant. The “Poppy” robot project, which you can read more about here, is “an open-source platform for the creation, use and sharing of interactive 3D printed robots”.
If, one day in the very near future, you decided to go out and buy yourself a home robot. Would you want that robot to look exactly like a human being, or would you want it to look . . . well, like a robot? The following video is five years old, and improvements have been made since then, but wouldn’t this robot be better if it (or she?) looked more like Robby?
Many people experience the creeps when they see a robot, especially if, just at first glance, it appears to be a human being. Back in Victorian times, people would sometimes take photographs of the recently dead. Known as post-mortem photography, it is a rather peculiar collecting interest today, with photos fetching high prices. Dead relatives were arranged so that they appeared to be posing for the photograph. A couple of examples can be seen on Wikipedia – click here – and they sometimes come up for sale on eBay. For me, looking at one of these photographs has a similar effect to looking at a humanoid robot that is waiting for instructions. Their eyes have no life, no soul behind them, they look dead.
I would suggest that more people would accept robots in their homes if they looked like friendly walking machines. The word “friendly” is rather important here! We wouldn’t really want a Cylon at home would we!
Another consideration is whether robots should have two legs and two arms. I know that is accepted as normal for human beings, but should it apply to robots? The robot from South Korea which won the recent DARPA challenge, also had wheels on its knees so that it could transform into a more useful shape for certain circumstances. And while we are on the subject of transforming, why not have a self-driving car that can transform into a robot? Hey, they could make a film about that!
Channel 4 UK’s new series Humans seems to be trying to scare people into thinking that home robots are dangerous (although it is a good programme!). But if there was ever any doubt that consumers would buy robots to have in their homes, it was totally dispelled this week when Softpress made the following announcement in Japan:
1,000 ‘Pepper’ Units Sell Out in a Minute
June 20, 2015
SoftBank Robotics Corp. today announced that 1,000 units of ‘Pepper’, the world’s first personal robot that has its own emotions, sold out in one minute, and that orders are no longer being taken. Additional sales of Pepper are scheduled to be announced on SoftBank’s website in July.
Next year, sales of Pepper will go worldwide. It certainly looks like they’re onto a winner, and with great promotional videos like the one below, uploaded to YouTube this month, I would not be at all surprised if sales went through the roof and beyond! One day we will all have robots at home, and they will be as common as a television set.
Pepper will cost about £1,000 to buy, followed by 36 payments equivalent to about £125 a month including insurance. I wonder which company will be next on the market with a similar product?