CURRENT EMPATHIC-COMFORT ROBOTS: Track 1 [Replicants/Androids]

While not comprehensive, the catalog does include most of the currently-available robots.  Each track is organized in reverse chronological order (oldest first).  The catalog has been separated into three tracks of development which mirrors the direction different companies have chosen, and each track is a separate post.  Track 1 [replicants-androids] are those robots which were explicitly designed to be humanoid.  Track 2 is emotive comfort robots, broken down further into humanoid forms, robotic forms, zoomorphic forms, and finally the pet surrogates.  Track 3 [APPs] are the software-based para-social APPs.

It is of interest that there is a fair amount of conformity/improvement rather than pure innovation in much of this work, especially in regards to post-2006 Japanese empathic/comfort bots (such as the current Omnibot series by Takara Tomy and Pets by Sega).  This probably reflects a combination of minimizing development costs, lowering risk and the enormous amount of uncertainty as to actual market interest and consumption. All of these are new. As an example, there is no real way to predict how popular Hasbro’s Joy For All cat will be, what market demographics will be the main consumers and what functions will the cat serve.  Almost all of these devices require WiFi, often Bluetooth, have complicated setups for 1st time users, and have very limited true interactive capabilities. They may be useful, or they may just turn out to be the new Kendama of two years ago or the Fidgit Spinner of last year.

It is worthy of note that some of the most innovative bots came as a result of a government initiative.  The central Japanese government’s METI Ministry covered a significant proportion of the costs for the Yumel-Nerul, Paro and Pepper projects.

A logical move recently has been to cloud-based interaction, as this removes a major issue, that of limited on-board memory and updating the software. The Hanson Professor Einstein is a good example of cloud-based APP systems, though it is also an example of the complicated setup issues (look for reviews on Amazon).


Track 1: “Replicant/Android” Humanoid Robots

1-1:  Ishiguro Hiroshi’s Intelligent Robots Laboratory at Osaka University humanoid robots (Erica, Demoroid HI-1)


1-2:  Softbank Robotics Pepper (7,000+ in use)


1-3:  Softbank Robotics Romeo (2019)[]


1-4: Lovott Groove X (2019)[] Still in initial conceptual product design stage.  Japanese VC startup, founder developed Pepper for Softbank/NTT.

1-5a:  Sophia (2017) from Hanson Robotics [].  Recently in the headlines as in late 2107 ‘she’ was given Saudi citizenship by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  Hanson has also developed Professor Einstein tutorial bot.

1-5b:  Professor Einstein Tutorial Robot with Stein-o-Matic tutorial APP.


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