In his online love request, Maezawa, who was 44 at the time, said he hoped to find a partner who would ease the “feelings of loneliness and emptiness” that arose within him. A few months later, however, he abruptly called off this search for a romantic partner due to unspecified personal reasons.
Now, it seems that Maezawa is betting that the robots can fill the hole in one’s heart.
The eccentric billionaire, who made his fortune through Japanese fashion e-commerce site Zozotown, announced last month that his investment the fund is buying Japanese robotics startup Groove X, which makes a product called Lovot, a portmanteau of the words “love” and “robot.” Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The pet-sized companion robots aim to spark an “instinct to love” in their human clients, according to the company’s website, with possible use cases in nursing homes and with children. As the pandemic progressed, so-called “emotional” robots also found a new purpose in providing companionship. those who have been forced to stay away from others, according to the company.
The open-eyed devices roll on wheels and have more than 50 sensors to respond to stimuli from humans (who distinguishes through a thermal camera) through machine learning technology, according to the company. The robot is currently only available for sale in Japan. Pricing starts at $2,825 for a single device, plus a monthly service fee of approximately $80.
Maezawa also expressed hope in his statement that Groove X may soon begin shipping its robot beyond Japan. GrooveX declined to make Maezawa or anyone else available for the interview, citing scheduling reasons.
It may sound like something out of science fiction, but some The researchers say there is a lot of potential for robots to become beloved human companions.
“There is a substantial amount of research in human-robot interaction showing that people can develop genuine emotional attachments to robots, and that this is something that can be intentionally encouraged through design,” said Kate Darling, research specialist. in personal robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. from Technology Media Lab, he told CNN Business.
“We’re very relational creatures,” Darling said. “I have no doubt that people can and will emotionally relate to robots in the future.”
Darling points out that social robots, or robots that are intentionally designed to engage people on a socio-emotional level, have not yet been a huge success in the United States. “But I think it’s just a matter of time, and clearly these companies too,” she added.