Pearl is what happened when an artist with a vision met a computer scientist on a mission. Research robots just didn’t look like this in 2000, but they do now. We were ahead of the curve, and part of the idea was to inspire future robots to be more than an upside down trash can with a camera on top, to grow up, mature, and eventually deliver the promises of technology our grandparents have been expecting for decades. Pearl was in fact built for our grandparents, her purpose was to assist the elderly. Her design was meant to invoke familiarity, not some alien “new-fangled gadget”, when she rolled into the nursing home for the first time, and it worked.
“Oh there it is. Finally.” was the average response, and it was an honor to deliver.
We recently acquired the little bits that are left of the original Pearl head. Rescued her from a card board box where shes been scavenged for parts for the past 10 years by eager roboticists building future creatures. Her remnants are now preserved and cataloged for future generations, museum style, and we intend to restore a version of her as time and resource allow.
Below are some photographs and drawings of Pearl, from concept through testing. We’ve more on the way, and one day Pearl shall be reborn, she has certainly earned it.