Pepper, SoftBank’s Emotion-Sensing Personal Robot, Is Ready to Ship


Softbank Pepper robot

The age of the personal robot has arrived. SoftBank’s Pepper—the “emotion-sensing robot”—will be available for purchase in Japan beginning Saturday, June 20, to 30 buyers selected by lottery.

The launch pricing lists a base price of 198,000 yen (USD $1,613). There is also Pepper Basic Plan: 14,800 yen (USD $120) × 36 months plus a mandatory insurance plan that costs 9,800 yen (USD $80) x 36 months. The robot can be paid for in installments or all at once (of course).

Pepper responds to emotions like joy, sadness and anger, and can play music and dance. It will launch with 200 downloadable apps, including a selection that can only be unlocked by spending time with the robot.

“Pepper has evolved to have emotions,” according to a press release. “In addition to Pepper’s emotion-recognition functions, Pepper has capabilities to generate emotions autonomously by processing information from his cameras, touch sensors, accelerometer and other sensors.”

Softbank Pepper robot classroom

Translation, Pepper is at ease around people he knows, happy when praised and scared when the lights go out. Aldebaran, the AI developer working with SoftBank on the humanoid robot, is also creating the NAO robot line, which it noted on Twitter today “is not yet available for the general public but is for sale for developers and institutions.”

When SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son initially presented Pepper (see video below), he said: “For the first time in the history of humans and the history of robots, today is the day we take up the challenge of giving emotions to robots.”

SoftBank Pepper robot

SoftBank, Foxconn and Alibaba have formed a $589 million joint venture to build thousands of Pepper units for global sale.

As for how brands will adopt consumer-facing robots, Nestlé has already commissioned 20 Pepper units to sell coffee in some of its stores by year’s end. Honda is developing its own robot in the faceless Asimo (above).

SoftBank Pepper robot launch Japan June 2015

Update: Pepper sold out on Saturday after 1,000 units were sold in a minute. Interested in being a Pepper too? Softbank will launch an enterprise model under its “Pepper for Biz” program with details to be announced next month at its SoftBank World 2015 event.