SoftBank/Aldebaran Pepper robots go on sale in February
IEEE/Spectrum Senior Editor Erico Guizzo describes in a recent post (and two videos) how Aldebaran’s two-year Pepper project is coming to fruition.
The article identifies some hitherto unknown facts excerpted below:
- SoftBank, a large Japanese telecom and Internet provider, will begin selling Peppers to Japanese consumers and businesses in February for 198,000 yen (about $1,700) plus a monthly subscription fee.
- Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn, known for building iPhones and iPads for Apple, is producing the robots.
- SoftBank is pricing the robot very aggressively, which should help drive demand. Masayoshi Son, CEO, founder and Chairman of SoftBank, says he’s willing to lose money selling the robots until the company can ramp up volume and reduce costs—￼a strategy he’s used successfully in the mobile industry.
- Aldebaran has spent an intense two years developing Pepper for SoftBank. Engineers worked day and night, with no breaks for weekends or holidays. The head count ballooned to 500 people at one point, with offices expanding not only at the Paris headquarters but also in Tokyo, Boston, and Shanghai.
- Last September, SoftBank and Aldebaran held a developers conference in Tokyo, where they provided details about Pepper’s technology and a set of software-development tools. A thousand attendees showed up, 600 of whom preordered a robot and developers kit. [Apps designed and provided by these developers are expected to add scope to the Pepper arsenal of capabilities.]
Two videos are included in Guizzo’s article and show some of Pepper’s capabilities. The article itself provides a fascinating timeline for the development of Pepper and why Aldebaran was chosen instead of a Japanese developer.
The article and videos are highly recommended! Click here to see them.
Photo credits: Erico Guizzo.