Pepper's "foremost function is to understand people's feelings," SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son from Japan, said at a news conference Thursday. "This is the first robot that acts on its own initiative."
When Son smiled at Pepper for a demonstration, the robot sparked laughter by saying, "What a mediocre smile. That would break a deal with an important business partner."
Pepper robot can read people's emotions and carry on conversations
Softbank plans to expand its uses by adding various apps for dance and comedy, for example. The current model connects to the Internet via WiFi, but in the future, it will likely become compatible with the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) data service as well.
Priced at 198,000 yen ($1,910), Pepper was developed specifically to communicate with people. It can read stories to children, help liven up a party and serve as a family pet.
Standing 1.2 meters high, it moves about on wheels and is controlled by cloud-based artificial intelligence. The 10.1-inch tablet computer on its chest can show information in response to queries, such as displaying a weather forecast if a person were to ask whether it will be sunny tomorrow.
Pepper is powered by a lithium-ion battery, the robot can operate for more than 12 hours per charge.
Softbank worked with French venture Aldebaran Robotics, in which it took a stake two years ago, to develop the robot. Production will be contracted out to Taiwanese electronic manufacturing service company Hon Hai group.
"Though this will make little profit for a while, we'll cut costs through mass production," Son said.
SoftBank will release Pepper in February 2015.
Take a look to Pepper to watch what is he talking about with people on this Japan Times video:
On June 5, SoftBank Corp. unveiled Pepper, a consumer robot to be released in Japan early next year for ¥198,000. Currently, you can meet Pepper in select SoftBank Mobile stores, such the company's flagship store Omotesando.