SoftBank to Sell Personal Robot with Emotion “Pepper” by Summer 2015

Softbank Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son and Alderaban Robotics CEO Bruno Maissonnier with Pepper during its launching (Screenshot from Softbank video presentation)

SoftBank Corp (TYO:9984), the telecommunications conglomerate controlled by Japanese billionaire, Masayoshi Son will start selling its humanoid robot called “Pepper” in the United States by summer next year.

Pepper is a four-feet personal robot with the ability to read emotions based on a person’s expression. It is also capable of communicating, dancing, joking, measuring distance and many other capabalities because it is integrated with various technologies. The humanoid robot will be available through the retail stores of Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S).

According to Fumihide Tomizawa, chief executive officer of Robotics at Softbank Corp (TYO:9984), the company already received approximately 400 inquiries regarding “Pepper.”

Tomizawa noted that the companies inquiring about the first personal humanoid robot with emotion are engaged in education, finance and food service sectors. SoftBank Corp (TYO:9984) will start selling Pepper in Japan earlier, by February next year for ¥198,000 or $1,900. It is uncertain if the Japanese conglomerate will sell Pepper at the same price in the United States.

“We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan. I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers,” said Tomizawa.

In July, SoftBank Corp (TYO:9984) established a robotics subsidiary to supervise the business and sell Pepper. Tomizawa emphasized that Mr. Son is “aggressively involved” in the company’s robotics project, and they report to him once or twice a month.

He added that the basic premise of SoftBank’s robotics project is to generate profit. He did not specify the company’s sales target. It is anticipating to generate revenue from applicatins and original content as customers personalize their robots.

SoftBank Corp (TYO:9984) developed Pepper in collaboration with Alderaban Robotics SAA. In a previous interview, Alderaban CEO Bruno Maissonnier indicated their plan to sell millions of personal, emotion-reading robots to reduce production costs make profits.

Mr. Son previously stated that he spent his childhood watching “Astro Boy,” the Japanese television series during the 1960’s, and he contemplated on the idea of having robots and computers that can figure out feelings such as pain, sadness and happiness. According to him, Pepper is the result of his idea to create a society that co-exists with intelligent robots.