The future is officially here, people.
A robot designed to read and experience human emotion is now up for sale in Japan. But Pepper, as the humanoid robot is affectionately known, might actually scare you once we explain how it works.
The robot’s emotions literally function the same way as a human’s. Pepper is able to “feel” things independently based on processing information from its cameras, touch sensors, accelerometer as well as other sensors, just as a human’s body would process emotion based on interactions with its five senses.
“Pepper’s emotions are influenced by people’s facial expressions and words, as well as his surroundings,” a statement from the company says. “For example, Pepper is at ease when he is around people he knows, happy when he is praised, and gets scared when the lights go down.”
Freaked out, yet? There’s more.
If agitated, Pepper will raise its voice. It will sigh if it feels let down. It will even ask if it can borrow some cash from time to time! Here’s the most unsettling part of all though: Pepper can actually learn.
Developers have admitted the robot may make mistakes initially, but added that Pepper will fix them over time through its own emotional engine as well as through wisdom it can obtain through collected cloud data.
In other words: we’re all doomed.
Don’t get us wrong, Pepper’s purpose is well intended (for now). We reported before that the robot was being engineered specifically to help treat patients with dementia. We’re just a little unsettled over what’s to come once this technology becomes more refined, accessible and affordable in the future.
In any case, Pepper went on sale Saturday in Japan for a base cost of $1,600, plus $200 per month for data and insurance costs (insurance costs?!). Its creator, SoftBank Robotics Corp., says it sold out in less than a minute. We’re not sure how soon you’ll be able to buy one of these for yourself, but the next batch is expected to go on sale sometime in July.
You can check the robot out in action below (keep in mind this footage is a year old):