SERVO 08.2014 19
Parrot's Rolling Spider, a small quadrotor with wheels.
Photo courtesy of Parrot.
Photo courtesy of SoftBank/Aldebaran Robotics.
PASS THE PEPPER
French robotics company, Aldebaran has unveiled its newest
robot: a friendly humanoid named Pepper that seems determined to
make everyone smile. Pepper talks, gesticulates, and zips by on wheels.
It has an “emotion engine” designed to understand how people are
feeling and react accordingly.
Aldebaran built the robot for SoftBank; you know, the Japanese
telecom giant which plans to start selling it to consumers in Japan
next February for 198,000 yen, or about US$1,900. The robot will be
produced by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer, Foxconn which
makes iPhones and other Apple products.
Bruno Maisonnier, founder and CEO of Aldebaran, said that his
company worked for more than two years on the project. The result
is an impressive feat of engineering.
The robot is 1.2 meters tall and weighs 28 kilograms, and it
carries a 10.1 inch touch screen on its chest. It has 20 motors and can
move its head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, and knees.
Aldebaran developed a proprietary mechanism to measure electrical
current consumption on each motor, allowing the robot to detect
forces on its body. In addition, Hall-effect sensors are used for motor
The robot’s head has four microphones, two HD cameras (in the
mouth and forehead), and a 3D depth sensor (behind the eyes).
There’s a gyroscope in the torso and touch sensors in the head and
hands. The mobile base has two sonars, six lasers, three bumper
sensors, and a gyro, and it can drive at up to 3 kilometers per hour.
Pepper is fluent in Japanese, English, French, and Spanish. Its
battery operates for up to 12 hours, though in the future that may
change if Aldebaran equips the robot with legs. Aldebaran actually has
been working on a bipedal robot called Romeo that's of a similar
stature, so a walking model may not be too far off.
SPIDERS AND SUMOS AT A
STORE NEAR YOU
Yep. French robot makers are on a roll. As
mentioned, Aldebaran Robotics unveiled Pepper, and
now another Paris-based company, Parrot, announced
that its MiniDrone line of toy robots will hit US stores
At a recent event in New York City, Parrot said that
Rolling Spider (a small quadrotor) will sell for US$99
and Jumping Sumo (a two-wheel machine that rolls and
hops) will cost US$159.
The only thing that MiniDrone users may find
disappointing is battery life. Because of their compact
size, the robots carry small battery packs. Rolling Spider
can operate for only eight minutes, and Jumping Sumo
for 20 minutes.