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Brisk sales for Pepper, but Romeo is primed to be the first hit humanoid


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Pepper, an emotionally intelligent robot developed by Aldebaran, has aced customer service and is now making its way into homes. But the real growth opportunity for humanoid robots is elder care. That's why Aldebaran is putting its research efforts behind a robot it calls Romeo.




"When Japanese mobile phone company SoftBank offered 1000 of its emotionally intelligent Pepper robots for the consumer market in late June, the entire run sold out in under a minute (read more). Another thousand units of the engaging humanoid, which costs about $1650, not including the available insurance, will go on sale July 31


The quick sales suggest a hot consumer market for humanoid assistants, and SoftBank, which debuted Pepper as an in-store assistant in its retail stores about a year ago, has plans for an enterprise version as well (read more). But the real opportunity for this technology lies elsewhere. Pepper was developed for SoftBank by Aldebaran, a robotics company specializing in emotionally intelligent humanoids that can function in unstructured environments like homes, shops, and, importantly, specialized care facilities.


"Currently, our Romeo project is focusing on the elderly," Rodolphe Gelin, head of cooperative projects for Aldebaran, tells me over the phone, referencing an ongoing project to develop advanced systems that can work in elder care facilities. "It's just a huge market."


How huge? Rival robot-maker GeckoSystems estimates that the available market size in dollars for cost-effective, multi-tasking elder care robots is currently $74B, and that it will top $86B by 2019 (source).


Like many robotics companies working in AI and machine learning, Aldebaran has been developing its technology while simultaneously exploring market opportunities and waiting for others to emerge. The decision to create humanoid platforms was motivated by the hypothesis that bots with anthropomorphic features would be better equipped to negotiate spaces designed for humans than non-anthropomorphic systems (NASA has taken a similar approach with its Robonaut project). Just which spaces Aldebaran's machines would be negotiating was a bit of an open question, even as the first robots were being assembled."


Pictures and much more info about the elderly care we will be getting from robots cane be found here: http://www.zdnet.com/article/brisk-sales-for-pepper-but-romeo-is-primed-to-be-the-first-hit-humanoid/?tag=nl.e539&s_cid=e539&ttag=e539&ftag=TRE17cfd61

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