RobotLAB Inc. and SoftBank Robotics America last week announced that SoftBank' Pepper and NAO humanoid robots are now available in North America exclusively through RobotLAB. The partnership also expands Pepper's educational and industrial focus areas to a broader range of applications, and it marks RobotLAB's debut as a integrator for SoftBank's Whiz cleaning robots.
The companies said their collaboration builds on their long-standing partnership in advancing automation and bringing SoftBank Robotics America's (SBRA) business-to-business systems to market. San Francisco-based RobotLAB has already deployed and supported thousands of robots in the field, including Pepper and NAO.
“We are pleased to expand our partnership with SBRA to become the exclusive distributor of Pepper and NAO, while also adding a new solution into our collaborative portfolio with Whiz and Whiz Connect,” stated Elad Inbar, CEO of RobotLAB. “SoftBank Robotics is known for commercializing robotics that make people's lives safer and more connected, which matches our focus on smart, useful robots, especially in this 'new normal.'”
“As we continue to partner to bring the extraordinary to humanity's day to day, RobotLAB will further develop the Pepper experience through the latest hardware models and our proprietary Robot Control AI platform,” he added.
RobotLab offers multiple models
For over a decade, RobotLAB has provided schools and universities with AI LABs equipped with technologies to empower educators and engage students with robotics, coding, and programming skills. The company said it also offers a clear pathway to successful integration of robots in banks, restaurants, hospitals, hotels, senior living facilities, and other enterprise and small businesses settings.
To meed different companies' needs, RobotLab is offering two hardware versions of Pepper: Pepper Premium and Pepper Premium+Nav. The two humanoid robots share the same underlying hardware, with Pepper Premium+Nav also allowing for autonomous navigation, while Pepper Premium serves stationary applications.
In the education and research market, RobotLAB offers Pepper and NAO with a curriculum to help students learn how to code and program the robots. Pepper Premium can be programmed using Python, C++, or a drag-and-drop interface, Choregraphe, while Pepper Premium+Nav can be programmed using Android Studio and Java. The Robot Control system is also available to customize programmability and cloud control as needed.
Both versions can be managed by RobotLAB's cloud based, AI-powered Robot Control system. Robot Control allows customers to choose the skills they want for their social robots. These skills might include conversation, identification of people and situations, entertainment, or physical tours.
The system also offers a comprehensive analytics tool that helps fleet managers study how people interact with the robots and change robot behaviors through the cloud based service.
SoftBank continues expansion
“RobotLAB's proven expertise in supporting our mission around humanoid robotics makes them the ideal exclusive partner for Pepper and NAO as we continue to grow our channel partnership network in North America,” said Brady Watkins, general manager and senior vice president at SoftBank Robotics America. “They have a strong understanding of the need and demand for robotics in this new era of reoccupying public spaces and the health and safety benefits that distancing, information sharing, and smarter cleaning bring.”
“This is a natural next step in our humanoid partnership, as well as our broader vision on the future of connected workplace through all of our solutions, including Whiz,” Watkins said.
SoftBank Robotics has offices worldwide, including Boston and Tokyo. More than 30,000 of the company' service robots are used in over 70 countries worldwide in the fields of retail, hospitality, finance, facilities management, and cleaning. Canon Solutions America Inc. recently said it is working with SoftBank to provide the Whiz cleaning robot as part of its Workplace Health Solutions portfolio.
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