Pepper, the so-called "emotional robot" that made its debut in Japan almost two years ago, is preparing to come state-side.
Phase one? Roll out a software development kit (SDK) on one of the most popular mobile platforms on the planet.
Softbank Robotics America (formerly Aldebaran), the company behind Pepper, announced this week at Google I/O that its Linux-based bot is adding Android as a developer platform, as well as support for Android Studio. In addition, the company is rolling out a new developer's portal that will include detailed explanations and places to connect with other developers.
Pepper is a four-foot tall, humanoid robot with a child-like upper body and a three-wheel base. It has a tablet in its chest that can be used for engagement and communication, but it can also communicate via speech.
The robot is designed to read human facial expressions and tone of voice. It's also cloud-based, so it can be continuously updated with new information and intelligence. Pepper is also pretty charming.
Most people who program for Pepper probably won't have access to the actual robot. That's why the SDK includes a virtual Pepper they can program and control.
"This is the first opportunity for the Android community to get their hands on a SDK to help them program on this platform," said Steve Carlin, vice president of marketing and business development at Softbank Robotics America.
Android has a huge development community, so bringing the relatively new robot platform to it makes sense. However, there is a larger goal.
"We want to incentivise them to come on and use their creativity to create solutions for how other people will be using Pepper, for business or personal use," said Carlin.
Pepper's Android adoption could lead to integration with other Android devices and systems, including tablets, smartphones and smart home devices.
And this new platform support marks the beginning of a plan to finally bring Pepper to the U.S. — Carlin said that will happen later this year.
Although Pepper was once predicted to cost as little as $2,000, Softbank Robotics America is no longer willing to say just how much you'll have to pay once it finally arrives.