SoftBank wants to create an Android-like operating system for robots

Softbank’s Pepper robot is hard not to love, even if we haven’t quite grasped the point of the adorable thing. We’re having much the same issue with the Asratec bot shown above, also part of Softbank’s broad robot business. As you can tell, it isn’t very responsive right now, and in fact it can’t even walk, but it possesses an OS that is claimed to be customizable enough for healthcare, entertainment or even construction robots. Asratec is hoping to make money from this software, rather than the 1.2-meter ASRA-C1 prototype hardware, but the robot still has a couple of notable features, including an extra pair of arms on the front, with which users can “drive” the robot around, or possibly teach it physical tasks by showing how it’s done. Though ASRA-C1 probably won’t be scoring any goals at the next Robot World Cup, you can see its current skillset demonstrated in the videos below.

Billionaire Masayoshi Son wants to create Android for robots. A unit of Son’s SoftBank Corp. (9984)has unveiled an operating system that would control robots in the same way Google Inc.’s software runs smartphones and tablets. The platform called V-Sido OS can be customized for different types of robots used in home health care, construction and entertainment, Wataru Yoshizaki, the chief developer at Asratec Corp., said in an interview yesterday. Japan wants to double the market size of domestic robot production to 2.41 trillion yen ($24 billion) by 2020, according to an economic plan released this week. SoftBank recently unveiled a 1.2-meter (4-foot) tall humanoid robot named Pepper that tries to read facial expressions, joining Honda Motor Co.’s soccer-playing Asimo and Panasonic Corp.’s medicine-delivering Hospi-R machines. “More and more companies are building robots,” Yoshizaki said. “Our platform is just software, but by making adjustments it can be adopted for many purposes.” SoftBank set up the unit Asratec in July 2013 and injected 160 million yen into it, according to Asratec’s website. Japanese electronics component makers Nidec Corp. (6594) and Futaba Corp., as well as Sanrio Co.’s robot unit, are using V-Sido OS, according to a June 11 statement from Asratec.

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