Robots For Social

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Robots for social interaction can be characterized by above-average AI and dialog capability. These robots do not necessarily have to be humanoids. Astro from Amazon, for example, enables many functions such as video telephony or care services for emergencies.

Astro can be ordered, tested and returned by selected customers by invitation in early 2023. Unfortunately, an invitation is only possible for the USA as of early 2023. The introductory price in the test version is around $1,000. Amazon gives devices from its own production as “Day one Edition” to selected customers. This is to improve the devices for series production through early feedback. There is a possibility to pre-order. On Ebay, individual copies are freely available in advance with luck.

Astro is more than a home robot, or consumer robot. Astro is a dog-like vehicle from Amazon, which can move agilely and independently. Astro is approximately 16.7″ L x 9.8″ W x 17.3″ H and weighs 19.84 pounds or 9 kg. Astro has integrated Alexa smart features at the same time. Astro can interact with people through various sensors and the display. In addition, Astro has functions such as a retractable periscope with camera, alarm function and storage compartment. The periscope camera can be used to monitor the home or a warehouse, for example, via smartphone. Astro itself has its own “personality” integrated. This uses the eyes on the display, sounds and independent, sometimes spontaneous movement with the wheels. The device can avoid obstacles and follow people. Advances in artificial intelligence let Astro recognize objects more easily. This should enable the home robot to know its way around the home better. It should also be possible to exclude certain areas of privacy, temporally or spatially, from its functions. A “do not disturb” function is built in.

Astro has many social functions in the process:
    • personal contact possibility with animals and co-inhabitants by video telephony via built-in monitor.
    • can additionally support the care of persons, improve the independence of vulnerable persons (such as dementia patients), for reminder in daily routines, security in case of forgetfulness (e.g. in kitchen stove, meal times, closed refrigerator doors), possibly use in nursing/elderly homes
    • can protect sick and elderly people more seamlessly and give messages to contact persons if they get up and walk through the apartment, or e.g. get into distress and call for help
    • for older children (3 years and older) Astro is a toy with possibly educational functions, e.g. with later additional functions with learning functions such as vocabulary training or the like
    • Pets themselves should be able to be monitored
    • entertainment for visitors, e.g. messenger for small gifts and products
    • Astro is programmable to the owner 

Cloud Ginger XR-1

Cloud Ginger is a humanoid with 63″ and 136.7 lbs or about 160 cm and 62 kg. Although the robot has no artificial skin or hair, it stands out with motor and speech capabilities. For example, there are over 30 actuators, including movable arms and hands. Cloud Ginger has highly developed capabilities for grasping and handling products, such as food and drinks. Accordingly, arms and joints are also capable of precise movements. Cloud Ginger is movable on casters.

Cloud Ginger also features sophisticated artificial intelligence. The manufacturer advertises the cloud-based artificial intelligence. This solution is supposed to control movements and processes particularly dynamically and appropriately. Numerous sensors are available for this (e.g. cameras and ultrasound). This facilitates interaction with other robots and the networking of various systems in line with Industry 4.0. The Cloud Ginger is also designed for particularly fluent speech dialog with humans.

Overall, the humanoid looks very appealing, above-average natural and is the most expensive humanoid in this compilation. This humanoid was awarded the 2020 Red Star Design Award in 2020. A luxury model among humanoids, it currently costs over approximately $150,000 USD. This is more than ten times the price of the company aoborobot.

Pepper is a well-known humanoid with a size of approximately 47.2″ or 120 cm x 42 cm x48 cm. The weight is 61.7 lbs or 28kg. Pepper can move his arms and parts of his upper body with great agility. The eyes can use moody bold colors. Pepper is designed for friendly conversations with humans. The exterior and speech functions are childlike. Spontaneous conversation is possible as far as the robot knows the words and understands them acoustically. The system is further developed by open source. Pepper is able to perform choreographies independently on voice command. Impressive are the short reaction times and the range of parallel playback of music, or speech and movements of the whole upper body up to the fingertips. Pepper imitates a developed personality of his own, reflecting his own abilities and idiosyncrasies.

In one version, the humanoid has a large display in front of its upper body. This makes “Pepper” very interesting for information and marketing events. Pepper stands very stable and can move on rollers.  Like other humanoids, it has a kind of “skirt” at the foot, which hides the landing gear.

Overall, Pepper appears to be above average in terms of maturity and quality. This humanoid is already in use in larger numbers. Therefore, the higher price for Pepper seems justified.

Pepper the ‘emotional’ robot visits the FT

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