The adorable Pepper robot, unveiled a year ago by Japan-based mobile and telecommunications company SoftBank, has finally been made available to consumers, and it has been a roaring success. According to SoftBank, the robot was launched on to the market on Saturday, 20 June and within a minute, all 1,000 robots in the first wave were snapped up by customers, going for around $1,610 apiece.
Pepper aims to act as a household companion. It is programmed to communicate with users, follow vocal commands, and, in what SoftBank claims is a first, read human emotions and react accordingly. The robot has been created to make people happy to interact with and even develops a personality of its own, based on how humans interact with it. It will be happy when it is given attention and irritable when it is not. However, Pepper is not a functional robot for domestic use with dishwasher or vacuum-cleaner functionalities.
Pepper comes equipped with a tablet to show its emotions, and will also require a data package for its cloud-based data and insurance fees, coming in at $200 a month. Even so, SoftBank expects to be selling Pepper at a loss for four years at the very least.
SoftBank plans to stagger the release of the robots, producing 1,000 units a month, with a global release in partnership with Foxconn Technology Group and Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba. Meanwhile, the next round of 1,000 Pepper robots is being planned for launch in Japan sometime in July.