Japan has long been known for its affinity for robots, and launch of Pepper, the latest addition to the robotics scene is no different. The new robot from Japan’s SoftBank Robotics was a hit on launch day with the initial batch of 1000 units selling out in under one minute. Pepper stands at 121cm, speaks in a child’s voice and weighs 29 kilos, and is designed to be a compliment to the standard household, aiding and entertaining both children and adults.
Pepper is designed to interact with humans by using advanced emotion and face reading software. Moreover, creators SoftBank are touting the fact that Pepper has its own emotions, displayed via an emotion matrix from the screen on its chest. Furthermore, Pepper’s emotional state is influenced and fostered by its interactions with humans. It can keep a photo diary of events that it likes to remember, as well as unlock more apps and moves the better it is treated. SoftBank claims that these features will help create unique personalities for each unit.
Currently, SoftBank is selling Pepper at below production cost in an effort to create widespread awareness of the product and encourage early adopters. That being said the unit price is still ¥198,000 or some $1600, with annual cloud access and insurance costs coming in at around $2400. SoftBank is also offering Pepper for rent at ¥1500 ($12.22) per hour to hand out tissues – a common promotional activity in Japan – and for other greeting and promotional activities. SoftBank Robotics plans on selling 1000 Peppers per month, with future expansion plans for China and Taiwan, as Alibaba Group and Foxconn both have twenty percent stakes in the company.