If you’ve recently watched the lovable “Big Hero 6”, then it is likely that you’ve felt a robot-sized hole in your life. “I want a Baymax” I sulked as we left the cinema. Cute, intuitive and nothing like those villainous robots on a mission to kill Will Smith, what was once the fodder of a badly rated Robin Williams’ movie (“Bicentennial Man”, anyone?) is now fast becoming a reality at the hands of Japanese scientists.
Meet PaPeRo, which stands for Partner-type-Personal-Robot.
Known for its cute appearance and various personalities (from Lazy PaPeRo all the way to Dancing PaPeRo) this mini robot uses different forms of technology to interact with its environment. For example, those big eyes are actually twin cameras with a built-in face recognition system.
Fun fact: PaPeRo is a bit of a jack of all trades – this multi-faceted robot can also tell your fortune, asks riddles and impersonate an alien and a motorbike.
While dancing and acting as a part-time psychic may be cute and endearing, what’s really got people excited about PaPeRo is its childcare version. Forget the babysitter, PaPeRo loves your kids and it seems kids love robots too. Prof Sharkey, best known as a judge in the BBC series “Robot Wars” says children love robots of every kind and they do offer some benefits. “They like to drive them around by remote control and they like to play games with them”. And perhaps more importantly “Robots are a great teaching aid to inspire our next generation of engineers and scientists and recent studies show that they may be a useful therapeutic aid for the likes of autism.”
Although the required technology for sophisticated childcare is not quite there yet, the trouble with robots as nannies in the future is not their potential shortcomings, but the reality that they may not have any. Well, not compared to a living, breathing, fallible human being who demands a fair wage and a lunch break.
So the question remains, can I get my Baymax now?