|This article does not cite any sources. (March 2014)|
The PaPeRo which stands for "Partner-type-Personal-Robot", is a personal robot developed by Japanese firm NEC Corporation. It is noted for its cute appearance and facial recognition system. The robot's development began in 1997 with the first prototype, the R100. The name PaPeRo was adopted in 2001.
PaPeRo has been researched and developed with the intent to be a partner with human beings and its being able to live together with them. For this reason, it has various basic functions for the purpose of interacting with people.
Since the original introduction of PaPeRo, there have been a few different versions, including a Childcare Version, 2003 and 2005 revised versions, and "PaPe-Jiro", a robotic comedian. In 2006, a virtual PaPeRo was released for use in any PC running the Windows operating system and the Pocket PC, which can be used to program or monitor the use of the PaPeRo operating system.
For PaPeRo to interact with people and perform autonomous actions, it must understand information on the conditions of, and outside, the location where it has been put. For this reason, various devices have been included to detect the outside area, such as a CCD camera, microphone, ultrasonic sensors, etc.
In spring 2009, NEC introduced PaPeRo Mini, weighing half of the current PaPeRo model, with physical dimensions roughly half the size of the original. The PaPeRo Mini has several enhanced abilities, and has a small LCD monitor on the front of its chest.
- Height: 385 mm
- Width: 248 mm
- Depth: 245 mm
- Weight: 5.0 kg
- Continuous operating time: 2 to 3 hours
- Battery charging time: 2 to 3 hours
- Number of recognizable words: about 3,000, in speaking mode
- Number of speaking words: about 3,000
PaPeRo is a little helper during the day and can play games with people. When asked questions like "Is today a good day for a date?", or "Is today a good day for a drive?", PaPeRo will connect to the Internet, obtain a weather report or information about a person's fortune and then say if today is a "recommended day." If PaPeRo is in a good mood, it will dance to please people.
Basically, PaPeRo has a cheerful character that enjoys speaking with people, but will change depending on the way it interacts with people. Changes in character are expressed by the way it speaks, its voice quality, its music, and the way it moves. Here are PaPeRo's representative characters.
Leader PaPeRo— This character was developed first. It is easy going and does what it likes. It likes talking with people and is good at imitation and dancing. It dances according to its mood, adapting to the march, which is the theme music for Leader PaPeRo. A cute voice and manner of speaking are special features.
Knowledgeable PaPeRo— This character will inform people of various information on the Internet. It will not say what it likes or dislikes, but people can interpret its feelings from its slight gestures. If people speak to it in any way they wish, it will sulk or become naughty. PaPeRo talks in a polite manner using speech synthesis.
Dancing PaPeRo— This character is a little bit headstrong, but really likes to dance and is happy if people praise it. It has different theme music than Leader PaPeRo and has a specialty dance that it matches to the music. Using speech syntheses it talks in a friendly tone of voice.
Lazy PaPeRo— If people do not interact with PaPeRo, it will become lazy. If people answer its questions and set it up properly, it will become serious.
Computer PaPeRo— This character does what people say, but does not speak to people. If treated affectionately, such as praising it or rubbing it, PaPeRo will move around and talk to people. Like robots in the old days, it will speak in a monotonous voice.
PaPeRo uses different technologies to interact with its environment. For example, Its "eyes" are really twin cameras with a face recognition system. When PaPeRo has nothing to do, it roams around looking for faces. Upon finding one, it will try to start a conversation. PaPeRo also has a speech recognition system. With a pair of sensitive microphones, it can determine exactly where a sound comes from and if the sound is human speech. The robot will then interpret the information and respond accordingly. While PaPeRo roams around, it uses an ultrasound system located in its chest to detect objects. If an object lies in its path, PaPeRo's ultrasound system will detect where exactly the object is, and then PaPeRo will decide what to do to avoid the object. PaPeRo also has other sensors located in its head, which can detect if the robot is patted, slapped, etc., with PaPeRo responding accordingly.