A robot cat to help people isolated by the pandemic -
The Japanese company Panasonic has just unveiled a new gadget, Nicobo.
It is a small companion robot that looks (very) vaguely like a cat.
Its functionality is quite limited: Nicobo can wag his tail, blink, waddle and make a few noises, but he can mostly flatulate when he wants to.
What to create some funny situations.
The robot cat also has built-in microphones and cameras that allow it to interact with its owner.
Nicobo will indeed be able to recognize his face, his voice and turn to him when he sees him, like a companion happy to see his master appear in his field of vision.
Equipped with touch sensors, the robot knows when it is being stroked or hugged and reacts.
Interacting with Nicobo, however, will cost an additional $ 10 per month to maintain its connection to a smartphone and updates.
Panasonic's robot cat, developed with the help of robotics researchers at Toyohashi University of Technology, has no other purpose than to be a source of comfort during this time of limited social interaction.
And the concept seems to please given the speed with which the 320 planned copies have sold.
An immediate success
The Japanese firm has in fact provided only a limited number of Nicobos.
And despite the $ 360 requested per copy, pre-orders for the robot cat were sold out in just a few hours.
The production of the Nicobo has not yet started, Panasonic was waiting to reach 10,000,000 yen ($ 95,000) via a crowdfunding campaign before launching production.
The success of the campaign could also push Panasonic to produce more.
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