Jun 9, 2014

SoftBank to start selling personal robots next year

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

By Teppei Kasai and Yoshiyasu Shida — Reuters
SoftBank Corp. unveils human-like robots named 'pepper' at the company's news conference in Urayasu, east of Tokyo June 5, 2014. REUTERS-Issei Kato
(Reuters) — Japan’s SoftBank Corp said on Thursday it will start selling human-like robots for personal use by February, expanding into a sector seen key to addressing labour shortages in one of the world’s fastest ageing societies.

The robots, which the mobile phone and Internet conglomerate envisions serving as baby-sitters, nurses, emergency medical workers or even party companions, will sell for 198,000 yen ($1,900) and are capable of learning and expressing emotions, Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son told a news conference.

A prototype will be deployed this week, serving customers at SoftBank mobile phone stores in Japan, he added. The sleek, waist-high robot, named Pepper, accompanied Son to the briefing, speaking to reporters in a high-pitched, boyish voice.

“People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart. For the first time in human history, we’re giving a robot a heart, emotions,” Son said.

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