Panasonic Releases Robot To Cuddle With, Talk To While Isolated In Pandemic

(Photo Courtesy Panasonic via Nikkei Asia)

Brent Foster Contributor
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Panasonic has released a new robot designed to ease the loneliness of those isolated by the pandemic, according to Nikkei Asia.

The robot is known as the Nicobo desktop and has cuddly features including the ability to mimic what has been said when spoken to by humans, according to Nikkei Asia.

The product is the first household robot for Panasonic, a manufacturer traditionally centered around the production of appliances and home electronics Nikkei Asia reported.

Michio Okada of the Toyohashi University of Technology partnered with Panasonic for the development of Nicobo, which also aims to help the elderly who already faced isolation prior to the pandemic, according to Nikkei Asia.

Depression and suicide-related hospital visits have spiked during the pandemic.

The robot was first introduced on Makuake, a crowdfunding platform, and the 320 units available on the first day were backed with financial support, according to Nikkei Asia.

The first deliveries are expected to arrive in March 2022. A subscription fee will be tacked on six months after the purchase, according to Nikkei Asia.

Nicobo has a limited Japanese vocabulary, leading to a chance of moody behavior along with imperfect coordination between responses, according to Nikkei Asia.

The head of the Panasonic development team said that they “made Nicobo look adorable with its baby talk and somewhat vulnerable face,” according to the outlet. (RELATED: Study Says People Hold Racial Bias Towards Robots)