Japan's Pepper The Robot Is Offering An Android SDK For US Programmers; iOS SDK Also Coming Soon?

By V Doctor , Updated May 20, 2016 11:14 AM EDT

Pepper The Robot from Japan will arrive in the United States in 2016. Its maker, SoftBank Robotics recently announced that it is inviting Android developers to boost its functionality.

At Google I/O, SoftBank Robotics stated that it will set up an outpost in San Francisco, focusing on Pepper the Robot and will also feature an Android software development kit (SDK) to encourage programmers to develop code for the robot. The new offices will be located near Silicon Valley to stay close to tech companies that may help in its development.

According to Engadget, Masayoshi Son, CEO of SoftBank Robotics, initially preferred to keep Pepper the Robot’s whole platform closed. However, the company has been spending a lot to develop Pepper the Robot and developers have not been too keen in exploring the humanoid’s capabilities further.

“Humanoid robotics are very new. Our goal is to demystify things as much as we can so we get a broader group to come on board and help program Pepper,” said Steve Carlin, vice president of SoftBank Robotics Americas

Pepper the Robot was developed by SoftBank Robotics, in collaboration with French firm Aldebaran Robotics. It is made of white hard-plastic with humanoid characteristics like eyes, arms and a chest, which has a display screen. Pepper the Robot can reportedly interpret human emotions by processing both vocal and visual inputs using its several cameras and microphones. It is meant to mimic the way that humans interact with each other. Pepper the Robot has already been commercially launched, with 140 SoftBank mobile stores having at least one model greeting and dealing with customers.

USA Today revealed that Carlin also said that Pepper the Robot is ultimately an unfinished product, so they wanted to provide incentives to developers to provide more ways that people can engage with the humanoid creation.The company stated that the purpose of Pepper the Robot is to be much more than a mere machine, but to be a real humanoid companion that can communicate with people naturally and intuitively. He continued that currently, Android is the pervasive language, and he would not rule out anything, including the launch of an SDK for iOS developers.

According to Carlin, Pepper the Robot will most likely delve into retail and hospitality when it reaches the U.S. Later on, Pepper the Robot may move into healthcare and other areas.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that they are at a seminal moment for AI at present, where artificially intelligent machines can interact with users by anticipating visual and vocal cues. More updates and details on Pepper the Robot are expected soon.

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