Kaname Hayashi has designed Softbank's humanoid robot Pepper. Now he runs his own robot startup Groove X.
Kaname Hayashi has risen to the top Japanese robot designers with Pepper. The humanoid robot with emotions and verbal communication skills has sold so far about 10,000 times since its launch last year. Hayashi has left SoftBank after Pepper was finished and started Groove X. In contrast to Pepper, the first Groove X robot will have no verbal skills.
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Hayashi argues his decision to make a non-verbal robot with a survey of the most beloved Star Wars robots. 80% of participants said they prefer the Star Wars robots that do not speak, like R2-D2.
It will be a companion robot that is more like a pet. It can comfort people and improve their mood. "The main focus will be on building a robot that can be a partner to people, young and old and men and women. Useful functions, such as watching over seniors or children, may be added later." said Kaname Hayashi.
The first Groove X robot is planned for a 2019 release. The current prototype is according to Nikkei, bigger than Sony's Aibo and smaller than Pepper.
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Softbank is continuing developing Pepper. Recently the company announced a partnership with Microsoft. Pepper is connecting to the Azure IoT cloud services. The first solution of cloud robotics will be a retail solution to be released end of the year. Pepper will be able to access retail data stored in the cloud and give informed to store customers.