Panasonic pits own robot against SoftBank’s Pepper

The HOSPI(R) robot can deliver items to people in addition to giving them useful information.

January 31, 2017

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The HOSPI(R) robot can deliver items to people in addition to giving them useful information.

Panasonic’s HOSPI(R) service robot can deliver drinks and retrieve
used dishes in addition to offering information (Source: Panasonic)

Panasonic has begun demonstration experiments of its helper robot HOSPI(R). The company is working with the Narita International Airport Corporation and the ANA Crowne Plaza Narita for this project. Japan's best-known helper robot right now is probably SoftBank’s Pepper. This robot, however, is built around communication, whereas HOSPI(R) is designed to autonomously deliver goods.

HOSPI(R) can also be informational, but the ability to store goods allows it to offer a unique service over many other robot assistants. In a video demonstration released by Panasonic, HOSPI(R) can be seen rolling around the ANA Crowne Plaza, offering bottles of water in addition to letting guests know the time of the next bus departure.

Aside from providing guests with drinks, HOSPI(R) will also be retrieving used dishware during demonstrations. The purpose of these test-runs is to accelerate the robot's commercial development, according to Panasonic. Pepper, too, has undergone extensive public tests in various settings, which has contributed to its development.

Japan is one of the world leaders in service robots and it could prove an important industry. The market is projected to reach $23.9 billion by 2022. China was also early in rolling out service robots, although its robots are not generally seen as sophisticated as the products coming out of Japan or the US. That has not deterred China makers, though. Their robots have become almost ubiquitous in the market and are designed for many different kinds of tasks, including home assistance and education.

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