French service robotics company Robosoft has introduced a robot called Kompaï designed to assist elderly and disabled people and others who need special care. The mobile robot talks, understands speech, and can navigate autonomously. It reminds people of meetings, keeps track of shopping lists, plays music, and works as a videoconference system for users to talk with their doctors, for example.
The video below is pretty awesome. It shows a senior at Broca Hospital, in Paris, interacting with the robot after receiving only a few minutes of training. The man asks the robot about the time, date, and whether he has any appointments that day; Kompaï gives answers in a computerized voice.
"Robot?" the man says. "What can I do for you?" Kompaï responds. The man asks what is on the shopping list. "Fourteen apple, four cheese, and 18 tomato," the bot responds. The man says, "Add five eggs to the shopping list." Done.
The video also demonstrates how the man uses the robot when he doesn't feel well. "Robot, I'm not fine," the man says. "Where does it hurt?" Kompaï replies. The robot goes on to ask a series of questions and then tells the man that it sent that information to his doctor by email.
My favorite part is toward the end, when the man gives the robot the following command:
"Robot," he says, "leave me alone."
"OK. I stop talking. Call me when you like," Kompaï responds and promptly leaves the room.
This is how Robosoft describes Kompaï:
It is a mobile and communicative product. Somewhat like a dog, it has its "basket," which is the recharging dock that it heads back to when its batteries are low. Equipped with speech, it is able to understand simple orders and give a certain level of response. It knows its position within the house, how to get from one point to another on demand or on its own initiative, and it remains permanently connected to the internet and all its associated services.
Its primary means of communication with people is speech, with an additional touch screen that features simple icons. Future generations of Kompaï will be equipped with visual abilities, and also the possibility to understand and express emotions. And later, the addition of arms will allow it to handle objects, leading to meal preparation and tidying; more practical functions, yet still fundamental in everyday life.
The first generation of the robot, to be officially introduced next week at the Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference in New Orleans, is an R&D platform, "intended for developers who would like to implement their own robotics applications for assistance," Vincent Dupourqué, CEO of Robosoft, said in a statement.
Robosoft is one of Europe's largest service robotics companies. They are famous (at least to me) for their robot that cleans the Louvre glass pyramid.
Make sure you watch Kompaï in action:
Correction: The Intercompany Long Term Care Insurance Conference will take place in New Orleans from March 14-17, 2010.