adoptez un robot 2

Why not adopt

  • a robot?


It's no longer science fiction: robots as seen on the big screen now exist. Even more amazing, they're intelligent and will soon be part of our daily lives.


Robots come in all shapes, sizes and forms, but let's talk specifically about the humanoid variety built to look like us, a field in which eye-opening progress has been made as demonstrated by Nao, Pepper
and Romeo, all developed by the French firm Aldebaran. But what (who?) exactly are they? Nao is the smallest at 58cm tall; in production since 2006, he's familiar to French TV audiences as Jean-Mi, "co-presenter" with Thierry Ardisson of Salut les Terriens(Hello Earth Dwellers). He moves about, recognises people, answers questions put to him and even speaks spontaneously. He's cute and engaging. You can ask him to wake you up in the morning or help the kids with their homework, a capacity that has resulted in an educational program (Ask Nao) to help teachers, particularly those work­ing with special needs, notably autism. Their pupils particularly enjoy interacting with this little pal who always knows the answers – and dances like Michael Jackson!


Of robots and men
Pepper is a cyber-receptionist who greets, directs and communicates with the customers of a Japa­nese mobile phone company's shops. Designed to live with humans, he is a social robot who interacts and evolves, adapts and improves. He can detect emotions and even reacts to touch. He has a real personality. As for Romeo, he was developed to deepen research into assisting people, hence his strapping physique (1.4m) and very human, and therefore reassuring, appearance. So far this humanoid robot can walk, pick things up, recognise faces and carry out simple orders, the ultimate aim being for him to assist the elderly and people with diminished capacities. In preparation, he has learnt to make pancakes by watching internet videos! One of his American cousins too has learnt the rudiments of cooking. So is self-teaching going to be the next step forward in robot development?


A new addition to the family?
Despite this undeniable progress, there are still some obstacles to us welcoming one of these sci-fi wonders into our home. The price to start with: around €5000 for Nao (presently on sale to professionals, available to the general public sometime this year at a lower price) and from €1500 for Pepper (soon to go on sale to private buyers in Japan); for now Romeo is a research robot available to laboratories only. Then the software for developing these companions' abilities and increasing their skills fields is still very limited. But that's expected to change fast...


Par Lise Irlandes-Guilbault