Emotional support robot is designed to befriend lonely humans

Japanese robotic startup Groove X designed Lovot, a tiny, plush robot designed to spread love.

Lovot looks like an adorable mix between a penguin and a teddy bear, making it a suitable buddy for adults and small children. The robot is supposed to help lonely people cope with their emotional needs — but it’s not a human servant by any means, at least according to its maker. 

“I wanted to create an opportunity for humans to love,” Lovot creator and Groove X CEO Kaname Hayashi told Forbes. “Our robot doesn’t do any work for humans and it doesn’t have any contents for entertainment purposes. But neither do dogs or cats. What it does is recognize you and bother you. That’s the aim of our robot.”

The sophisticated companion is self-driving and can navigate any home space. Most importantly, it can recognize people and ask for hugs. When users pick Lovot up, the robot is engineered to feel warm, like a living creature. You can even rock Lovot in your arms and watch it fall asleep. 

Despite it not having a practical utility, Lovot is a technological feat. It has 50 sensors for things like touch, pressure, distance, heat and obstacles. These sensors enable it to dodge obstructions and enjoy things like tickling. The “sensor-horn” on its head detects the direction of sounds and voices while a thermal camera recognizes the difference between living things and objects. Lovot can remember 1,000 people but prefers the company of its owner. 

After years of demos at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, Lovot is finally on the market this year for a cool $3000

If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on one Grammy-winning artist’s mission to open the tech world to people of color.

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