Pepper, a robot capable of detecting human emotions, made her debut in Japan over the weekend. The first batch of 1,000 robots sold out in under a minute as Japanese consumers raced to be one of the first to own the “robot with a heart”.
Pepper was developed by Softbank and costs 198,000 yen (around ,500) plus monthly service and insurance fees, and is capable of recognizing feelings such as anger, joy and sadness. Including the other fees, the cost of owning one is around 1.2m yen (around ,400) over three years.
Pepper then reacts accordingly, providing companionship for those who do not have it, or are simply curious about the latest robotic developments. The robot has been designed to help address Japan’s rapidly ageing population. The median age in the country is 46 – one of the world’s highest – and its birth rate has slumped to a record low. “Our vision is to offer a robot with love,” Softbank chief executive Masayoshi Son said at a press conference last week.
Pepper is four foot high and can dance to music, bow in respect and move her arms in a convincing interpretation of human movement.
Softbank, which plans to release Pepper in other countries later this year, will put 1,000 units a month on sale. It has big plans for the robot, but says it will not make a profit on it for years.