When you think of Japanese robotics, it's easy to be distracted by some of the more eccentric and outlandish examples such as robot-staffed hotels or even the demonic poop robot that sprays diarrhea. However, Japan boasts several impressive more practical robotic developments, such as an anime girl hologram assistant and domestic service robot Pepper--who can even perform funeral services.

The newly developed LOVOT, which takes its name from the words "Love" and "Robot", however, seems to be a branch in a different direction. Headed by former Pepper developer Kaname Hayashi at Groove X, LOVOT was designed to enhance human comfort and provide affection as a reactionary and life-like robot that appears to be thinking as it evaluates the behavior and even feelings of humans around it.

Groove X says that the driving concept behind LOVOT was to make a robot that can spread love and make humans happy, as there is a feeling that advances in technology have actually made humans more detached from those around them. LOVOT sports a variety of technological features that help "make the human power to love stronger." It's equipped with a horn-shaped thermographic camera that monitors human facial expressions, motion, and even posture to help it instantly recognize different humans and their mood.

LOVOT's actions are not pre-programmed, but instead the robot uses over 50 sensors, and a powerful computer to make real time "decisions". This includes avoiding those who have treated it poorly or scare it with loud gestures, while seeking out and asking for hugs and cuddles from those it has positive interactions with. Responsive features such as waving its arms, moving eyelids, dilating pupils make its behavior as a robot designed for the family all the more clear. In a video, LOVOT even gets surprised by movies and clamors to sit on its owner's lap.

The spherical robot (just over 3 kilograms) and its bubbly features are designed to capture the image of "kawaii", can wear different outfits and mimics human body temperature. Observing these features and Groove X's mission statement, it's clear that LOVOT is designed with the additional idea of entertaining children for busy parents in mind, but perhaps is also a pet alternative to those looking for companionship at home.

LOVOT is available in a set of two units for 598,000 yen, but will be available later on for 349,000 yen, with a tentative monthly fee. They can be pre-ordered from the LOVOT online store.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.