We all crave more interactive, slightly frightening robots, right? It's kinda thrilling. Thank the maker, then, that Sharp is coming out with pricey floor-cleaning droids that can jabber away in three languages.
The voice-controlled Cocorobo can kibitz in English, Chinese, and Japanese, even in the latter's Kansai dialect associated with the city of Osaka. It's the choice of standup comics, so this robot could come across as slightly funnier than, say, a HAL 9000.
Imagine Roomba replying to you with a bit of Texas slang.
Cocorobo will respond to verbal cues with one of 36 phrases, not exactly loquacious by any stretch. But Cocorobo, a play on kokoro (heart or mind) in Japanese, attempts to make up for that with functions such as purifying the air while it vacuums.
When you're out, its built-in camera can send images of your home to your smartphone via Wi-Fi and Android/iOS apps. Or it can help you find objects that love to find their way to inconvenient places, such as under your couch. You can use your phone to navigate it, too.
In automatic mode, its ultrasound sensors will help it avoid bumping into furniture.
As seen in the vid below, Sharp also says its Cocoro Engine will make Cocorobo react differently depending on how it feels.
Yep, now you have to worry about appliance drama. But it seems that if you talk to it enough it won't shred your slippers or carpet tassels.
Cocorobo goes on sale in Japan next month. It's priced around $1,600 for the RX-V100 camera-equipped version and $1,100 for the basic RX-V80 version, which doesn't have a camera and can't talk.
And to think that humans once had to vacuum their own floors.