Pepper is a friendly humanoid designed to be a companion in the home and help customers at retail stores. It talks, gesticulates, and seems determined to make everyone smile.
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At Pepper's launch event, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son asked the robot to describe some of its functions. "Masa, I don't want to show off," Pepper replied, "this might take over 100 hours."
Pepper was unveiled by Masayoshi Son, founder and chairman of telecom giant SoftBank at a Tokyo event in 2014. French robotics company Aldebaran, maker of the Nao humanoid, built the robot for SoftBank. Designed to be a companion in the home, Pepper was the world's first full-scale humanoid to be offered to consumers. In 2015, SoftBank started selling it in Japan for 198,000 yen (less than US $2,000), plus a monthly subscription fee. Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, known for building iPhones for Apple, produced the robots. Despite initial excitement, Pepper didn't find widespread adoption in homes. Over the years, it was mostly used as a research tool in robotics labs and as a greeter in shopping malls and airports. According to one estimate, only 27,000 units were manufactured, and in 2021 SoftBank stopped production citing weak demand. In 2022, Germany's United Robotics Group acquired SoftBank Robotics Europe, which reverted to its former name of Aldebaran.