SoftBank reportedly stopped the production of its Pepper robots last year
We may have to say farewell to SoftBank’s adorable humanoid robot Pepper. According to Reuters, the Japanese conglomerate has stopped the robot’s production last year is slashing jobs across robotics-related businesses in several countries. Apparently, there wasn’t much demfor Pepper, SoftBank only ever produced 27,000 units manufactured by Foxconn.
Nikkei has also reported that Pepper’s production was halted due to weak demand, but the SoftBank rep it talked to denied that the company is killing the robot entirely. “We plan to resume production if demrecovers,” the spokesperson said.
While Pepper sold out in under a minute when it was released in Japan in 2015, the company only produced 1,000 machines for its consumer launch. Pepper was built as a social robot that can recognize faces basic human emotions, so it can interact with people. Most of the units SoftBank produced are leased to corporate clients, the company also placed the robot in its mobile phone stores in Japan.
With a price of over $1,600, though, Pepper a bit too expensive for most developers small businesses. Reuters‘ sources said its sales suffered from limited functionality unreliability. Further, SoftBank wasn’t able to give the robot more features, because culture clashes between its French business in charge of robotics projects its Tokyo management reportedly affected Pepper’s development.
After SoftBank shifted its focus to the cleaning robot Whiz, Pepper was sidelined. The company plans to cut about half of its 330 staff positions in France in September, Reuters said, half of the sales staff positions in the US Britain had already been cut.
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