With 1000 Pepper humanoid robots selling each month; Jibo, the world’s first social robot for the home preparing to deliver more than 7500 units in the second quarter; and Buddy, the 'family robot' making its debut in recent months, it is apparent that the nascent field of social robotics is poised to take off at breakneck speed.
Social robots are equipped with facial and voice recognition software that enables them to function as personal assistants: They help individuals navigate their busy, connected lives. Most models feature built-in functions such as texting, schedule planning, taking pictures, making calls, video conferencing and games. Beyond their practical applications, these robots also have the innate ability to read emotions and to interact accordingly, serving as companions and as a source of entertainment.
According to research by market intelligence firm Tratica, almost 100 million consumer robots – which includes robotic vacuums, lawn mowers and pool cleaners as well as social robots – will be shipped worldwide from 2015 to 2020. This represents a jump from 6.6 million units shipped in 2015 to 31.2 million units by 2020. Robot vacuums will account for a chunk of those shipments in the near future, although robotic personal assistants will witness the fastest growth. The report concludes that "the next five years will set the stage for how these robots could fundamentally transform our homes and daily lives".
These consumer robots are powered by artificial intelligence technology developed over the last five years. However, significant breakthroughs are being made each day that could potentially transform science fiction films into reality.