Over the past 25 years, we have seen Japanese robot manufacturers build advanced robots that have penetrated assembly lines in auto and chemical plants as well as taking substantial numbers of jobs in warehouses, as they do the work of humans carrying goods, never getting injured. We have even seen robots starting to do laundry (our recent articles), but with limited success. In some high profile projects, Jibo and Kuri, both robot firms closed down as their products were somewhat before their time. So robots that cannot function or produce are now a challenge for robot makers.
However there are robots produced recently that have nothing to do with manufacturing or other industries, as they are only there to be loved. There is a new robot that is gaining interest from the public, the Lovot created by Kaname Hayashi, a former developer of the humanoid robot Pepper. This robot is a foot-and-a-half-high bundle of joy that is designed to be hugged and played with, much like a puppy. It is designed to interact with its owner with sweet eyes while it makes a light chirping noise. It has wheels and can roll around the living room and even go to the kitchen to find a beer. It can engage a human and even beg to be picked up and hugged.
The aim is to make this robot part of a family as it can interact with adults and children. And note that some Japanese are becoming attached to their home robots, very much attached. There is a robot called Paro, that is used for therapy as it mimics a baby harp seal. This robot is placed in nursing homes to engage and keep company with dementia patients. There is a robot called Aibo, we have seen this robot around for years – it is manufactured by Sony. Some families are so attached to Aibo that they keep it for years and have it upgraded and repaired. When it is beyond repair, it is often put to rest, with the family having “a funeral” for this loved animal.
Japanese are now making human-like robots as well as ones that look like small dogs or life-like stuffed animals, like the Lovot mentioned above. We suggest you have a look at the Lovot, it is what the Japanese call, kawaii, or cute.