Panasonic isn’t a company that walks away from unusual ideas, we have the Wear Space to prove it. But its latest experimental device is up there with the best of them. Panasonic developed a companion robot which looks a lot like an inflated cat and includes the ability to fart.
As Gizmodo reports, the little companion is called Nicobo and was developed at Panasonic through a collaboration with Toyohashi University of Technology Michio Oka Laboratory researchers. The robot can’t move around like your robot vacuum, but the base does allow for swivel movements and the ability to look up and down slightly. The attached tail can also wag.
As Nicobo is meant to be a companion, it includes touch sensors so it can react to being stroked or held. A camera allows it to recognize faces, and full sentences of Japanese baby talk (katakoto) will be possible, although initially Nicobo is restricted to saying single words. Talking isn’t the only audio feedback you’ll hear, though, as the video proves Nicobo is prone to farting.
Nicobo is being crowdfuded through the Makuake platform and has already reached its goal of 10,000,000 yen (US$95,000). Each Nicobo costs $360 to buy and Panasonic is only planning to make 320 for now. If the robot proves popular then it should be easy to make more. One thing that may hold back sales, however, is the need to pay a $10 monthly subscription after the first six months. In return, a Nicobo will receive regular software updates and (hopefully) a growing range of features added.