Futuristic utopian ideas such as having robots that do housework have been written about for decades. In fact, if you remember the cartoon the Jetsons, the writers and illustrators of that show feature a robot named Rosie that performed household chores for the family. Although the Jetsons was a children’s cartoon series created in the 1960s, the innovation and computational power required to have robots in the home has finally arrived in 2014.
Pepper is the name of a consumer robot being built by SoftBank. Pepper uses the cloud as a way to store facial recognition data in order for the robot to formulate an opinion on the human’s current emotional state. While some people may think that this technology is creepy, consumer experts predict that consumer robots will become a fixture in modern homes.
Bruno Maisonnier, CEO of a French firm that helped develop Pepper says, “It’s very important that we gather as much data as possible to improve [Pepper’s] understanding of human emotion and recognition of environments and contexts. We have algorithms and deep learning that will make him understand more and more.”
RoboEarth is handling the cloud computation for Pepper. RoboEarth is a European firm that acts as a repository for all of the intelligence and data gained by robots connected into this cloud. The cloud engine, as RoboEarth calls it, compares this data in order to give accurate instructions to the robot. As the robots share information, they become more skilled in the tasks that they are programmed to do.
Dr. Yau Wei Yun recently talked about the differences between robots with onboard computational abilities and those connected to the cloud. In an interview with CNBC, he said, “In current practice, there is no sufficient computational power that can be independently placed in a robot to autonomously perform critical functions such as human recognition, emotion identification and perform common tasks such as cleaning the table, and picking up toys left by a child.”
Putting all of this together, it’s clear to see that the only way these types of projects can take off financially is by going to the consumer route. Once robotics becomes mature enough that cloud connected robots are doing household chores, the world of robotics could become one of the top verticals in the cloud marketplace. Although this technology is possible now, most feel as if the price needs to drop more significantly in addition to the platform maturing.