It was recently announced that 1000 units of the robot Pepper - the world's first personal robot companion, designed by French robotics company Aldebaran - were sold within one minute. Pepper is not the first robot produced by the company: its first humanoid prototype, NAO, was a moving, talking and responsive 58-centimetre robot that is being used for research and education. But it is Aldebaran’s latest project, Romeo, that has caught our attention.
Aldebaran is now taking robot design to the next level, with a personal assistant robot and companion robot named Romeo for the elderly or mentally impaired. The scale of the project is vast, and requires six technical-research divisions and various partnerships with European laboratories. There are many factors to consider in the engineering of an almost human-size robot that will live with those in need.
For a person with mobility problems or memory disorders, Romeo could be life changing. The robot will be able to perform numerous functions and interact with the user, as a human assistant might: he will be able to manage a daily and weekly schedule and even remind the user of forgotten tasks or appointments.
Romeo will follow the user’s commands, but he is designed to be fully responsive and reactive, so Romeo will also be able to advise alternative plans when unforeseen changes in a schedule arise. When mealtimes come around, Romeo can help the user prepare the meal and remind the user of the dosage and type of medication that needs to be taken.
In the event of an emergency, Romeo is programmed to notice when something is out of its usual routine. For example, if a user were to take an unusually long nap, Romeo would check up on them and if there were no response he would alert remote assistance care.