The first robot with a "heart" is going on sale in the US by next summer. "Pepper" will be sold through SoftBank-owned Sprint stores.
Pepper began development at Sunsoft subsidiary Aldebaran robotics and is designed to be an affordable android that can be used for both commercial and domestic needs. "I won't be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers," Fumihide Tomizama, chief executive officer at SoftBank Robotics, told Bloomberg.
Aldebaran's website states that Pepper can "converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously." More impressively, Pepper can also "translate what state you are in using his knowledge of universal emotions (joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness) and his ability to analyze your facial expression, body language and the words you use. He will guess your mood, and will even adapt to it."
Aldebaran have included a number of sensors in Pepper that allow it to feel touch, use ultrasound to sense obstacles, and function as a personal assistant. Aldebaran's website also claims that incorporating robotics in your organisation will help you "invent new practices" and "strengthen your customer relationships."
Perhaps most incredible is the price though. Pepper goes on sale in Japan in February and will cost 198,000 yen (£1,144), the US price is yet to be set.