Social robots are domestic robots, more commonly identified today as personal robots, whose primary objective is to keep People Company by performing various tasks, from the entertainment of children and animals to the management of the smart home and surveillance.
Social robots are one of the areas of domestic robotics that will have the most considerable growth in the next two to three years.
Several examples of social robots are starting to appear on the market. In the next paragraphs, we list some of the best known (following the alphabetical order of the names of the social robots).
Alpha 2 is a humanoid robot designed and built by Ubtech Robotics, a Chinese robotics company, which looks a lot like another humanoid robot, Nao (produced by Softbank Robotics, the same company that made the Pepper robot, one of the best-known robotics in the world specialized in the production of social robots).
Alpha 2 positions itself on the market as a "family robot," a social robot designed to keep the company, entertain and assist families. It has arms and legs and is able to move quite freely (even if the movements are not very fluid). Alpha 2 is equipped with a video camera and sensors that allow it to detect sounds and images, as well as sensors to control movement, inclination, and possible impacts of the robot.
Alpha 2, like many of its social robot "friends," recognizes the faces and environments in which it moves, thus becoming an excellent surveillance system. Alpha 2 robot is also a valid assistant able to remember deadlines and commitments, read e-mails and messages, shoot a video or take notes, warn about weather and traffic, search and read news…
Like other social robots, Alpha 2 is a nice entertainer for children (but not only) who can read fairy tales and stories, entice you to do gymnastics, help you learn the alphabet, grammar or a foreign language (in this sense it can also be considered an educational robot).
It can be connected to other objects and therefore act as a control hub for household appliances or home automation systems, controlling lighting, door and window closures, etc.
Equipped with wheels to move and sensors that allow it to recognize and memorize the surrounding environment, Amy is a social robot designed to assist the family in various tasks and can become a personal assistant even in non-domestic contexts.
Amy is a social robot who can help those who are cooking by suggesting recipes and methods of preparation, can supervise the animals in the house or control the children who play or do homework, can remember appointments and deadlines, be a guardian when at home is anybody there.
Amy can hold some small conversations for which it could actually be used even outside the home, for example, in hotels, restaurants or shops, for the reception of customers.
Amy has neither arms nor legs and instead of the head, she has a display, similar to a tablet. Amy is a robot that can be controlled remotely via an app or web interface, a system that allows people, for example, to check that everything is quiet at home or that animals are well when nobody is around.
In its features, Amy robot is very reminiscent of another social robot, Aido.
Without arms or legs but with a long and curved neck that immediately leads to the memory of ET (the extra-terrestrial protagonist of the 1982 science fiction film directed by Steven Spielberg), Aido is a robot designed for families and despite not being an anthropomorphic robot is equipped with tactile sensors.
It easily interacts with family members, which it recognizes thanks to a biometric face recognition system. It can entertain children or assist in some "household chores," for example, in the kitchen or by remembering appointments and deadlines.
Like almost all the social robots available today, it is also able to monitor animals and homes and act as a "guardian" when nobody is at home. Aido robot can also act as a multimedia hub and a smart home control center, interfacing and managing appliances or connected objects.
Developed by the French company Blue Frog Robotics, Buddy robot is designed for families by stimulating empathy and closeness also thanks to a "soft" appearance in the lines and in the display that shows a cartoon face with two big eyes.
Buddy robot is neither an anthropomorphic robot nor a humanoid robot; it is a kind of top case that moves with three wheels and has a monitor with rounded edges. The rounded lines, not angular, make it a robot suitable even for younger children.
Buddy robot is equipped with cameras and sensors that allow it to "watch" at home, animals, children, but also to monitor the rooms not only by acting as an "intelligent anti-theft device" but also as a fault or unexpected controller. It can interface with other connected objects and manage the smart home independently, just as it can become a perfect assistant for both domestic matters (remembering appointments at the dentist or sports training sessions for children, birthdays and commitments made with friends, etc. .) and for professional ones (read e-mails, received messages, calendar appointments, etc.)
Like Buddy, Dumy was created as a robot for families, with an appearance reminiscent of the features of a little stylized panda and with a display that shows two big eyes that immediately catch the attention, especially of the little ones.
Dumy is a pet robot; he has neither arms nor legs but has a round head that can rotate and a display that acts as a face. It moves thanks to two wheels hidden inside two small black balls, which, overall, look like the two legs of the little panda.
Dumy, just like Buddy, is a handyman robot designed to keep people company but also to perform a series of tasks, from the entertainment and supervision of children to the control of the house. It is equipped with several sensors so it can act as a burglar alarm but also be the controller and first alert in case of fire, gas leaks, and unexpected events that happen in homes.
Like almost all other social robots, Dumy can assist the elderly by remembering to do gymnastics, drinking water, or taking a pill, remembering their commitments, or reading stories and books for them.