​CES 2017: Panasonic unveils 'human-like' companion robot

Panasonic has revealed a cloud-powered artificial intelligence robot prototype that has 'human-like' skills.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor
Image: Supplied

Panasonic Corporation of North America has developed a proof-of-concept robot that the company said boasts "human-like" movements and communication skills.

The desktop companion robot, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas this week, connects via Wi-Fi to natural language processing technology. Panasonic did not detail where the language processing is completed, nor whether any encryption is used for the voice data.

"This test project builds on Panasonic's innovations in robotics including battery and power solutions, vision and sensing, navigation solutions, and motion control in a new appealing design," said Takahiro Iijima, director for Panasonic Design Strategy Office in North America.

"This is Panasonic's latest effort in demonstrating network services in a friendly package, and we are showing this robot at CES as a way of obtaining feedback on its features and functions."

According to Panasonic, its Wi-Fi AI capability enables the robot to communicate in a clear and "friendly" way, giving it its human-like skills.

The robot is able to access and use cloud data, Panasonic said, and communicate with devices in other locations. The size of a standard kitchen countertop blender, the robot includes an embedded projector that is enclosed within the egg shell-shaped device.

The robot can also move backwards and forwards and up and down, and has been designed to mimic human movements. Panasonic said its decision to make the robot sound childlike was deliberate to build a sense of attachment with its human owner.

LG Electronics unveiled its own line-up of new intelligent robots at CES this week, including a home robot that doubles as a smart home gateway and intelligent home notification centre.

Designed to respond to human body language, the Hub Robot connects to other smart appliances and devices in the home, and uses the voice recognition technology of Amazon's Alexa to perform tasks such as turning on the air conditioner or changing a dryer cycle via verbal commands.

The Hub Robot can move and swivel in place, as well as express a wide range of emotions through a face on its display, which can also display information such as the contents of a user's refrigerator.

It's not just the electronic giants making a play in the home robot space at CES this year. Californian-based startup Mayfield Robotics unveiled its own intelligent home robot, Kuri, which can understand its context and surroundings, recognise specific people, and respond to questions with facial expressions, head movements, and sound.

Watch: Hands on with Kuri -- an adorable wandering security cam

Boasting an in-built 1080p camera for child or pet-watching, a 4-Microphone array, dual speakers, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, Kuri is available for pre-order in the US for $699.

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