Japanese Expressive Pepper Robots Sold Out in a Jiffy


It is quite well-known the Japanese love for robots. The Japan-based mobile and telecommunications company Softbank’s new robot Pepper is becoming a hit in the market following its launch.


The big-eyed cute-looking robot launched a year ago is now available to all and it is on a way to roaring success. The telecommunications company said it sold out 1000 units of the household robot in just a minute on Saturday, which was the first day of sales. The robot is priced 198,000 yen a robot which is around $1610 exclusive of data and insurance fee, which cost around 24,600 yen ($200) a month.

The robot Pepper has been designed to act as household companion. Though it cannot do household chores, it can communicate with users, follow vocal commands. SoftBank claims that it the first robot in the world that can read and understand human emotions and react accordingly. It can develop its own feelings and look for information on the internet like that of weather report and messages. It is the world’s first personal emotional robot.

“This robot has been created to make people happy to intact with. He is an emotional robot, not a functional robot for domestic use with dish-washer or vacuum-cleaner functionalities,” states the Softbank’s partner French robotics company Aldebaran SAS on its website. “People will help people grow, enhance their life facilitate relationships, he will have fun with them, give some services and connect them with the outside world.”


Based on the user’s interaction with the robots, it will develop a personality on its own. It will be happy when given lot of attention and may get irritable when it does not. SoftBank’s CEO Masayoshi Son said, “Pepper will become smarter every day by itself. Hundreds of thousands, millions of Pepper in the future, will teach each other and learn from each other simultaneously.”

The robots weigh 61 pounds and stands at four feet, runs on a lithium-ion battery that lasts around 12 to 14 hours. It has inbuilt sensors that help the robot to analyze the facial expressions, body language and words and also, adapt its behavior and mannerisms to suit the person it’s with. It comes with a tablet that shows its emotions and will also need a data pack for it to use internet and cloud-based data. One can find a slight resemblance of manga character Astro Boy which the company says is inspired by the company CEO’s love for the character in his childhood.

Though the price may seem high, the CEO says that the company will not make profit at least for next four years as the robot costs much more to manufacture than its sale price.

Most of the robots were purchased online on Saturday, but around 30 pieces were ordered through a drawing held last week at a SoftBank shop in Tokyo. Information on the first buyers was not available, said the company’s spokesperson.

With the partnership of Foxconn Technology Group and Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba, SoftBank plans to release the next set of robots of 1000 units next month. The company has planned to release 1000 units per month. The trio is planning to focus on business applications for Pepper starting this August and are looking forward to see robots as important as automobile and consumer electronics in the coming years.