When Sophia the robot debuted in 2016, she was one of a kind. She had a remarkably lifelike appearance and demeanor for a robot, and her ability to interact with people was unlike anything most had ever seen in a machine.
Since then, Sophia has spoken to audiences across the globe (in multiple languages), been interviewed on countless TV shows, and even earned a United Nations title (a first for a non-human).
Today, she’s arguably the most famous robot in the world, but she’s isn’t going to be unique for much longer. Her maker, Hanson Robotics, has announced plans to begin mass-producing Sophia the robot this year — so that she can help the world cope with the pandemic.
What Is a Social Robot?
Robots are typically designed for one purpose — some cook or clean, others perform brain surgery. Sophia is what’s known as a social robot, meaning she was designed specifically to interact with humans.
Social robots have many potential applications, including some we’re already seeing in the real world.
A social robot named Milo is helping children with autism recognize and express their emotions, and children with cancer are finding comfort interacting with a robotic duck (developed by Aflac).
Another social robot designed to look like an animal — PARO the seal — is providing companionship to seniors with dementia. The semi-humanoid social robot Pepper, meanwhile, is greeting and assisting customers at banks, offices, and restaur…