Softbank, Foxconn and Alibaba are joining to sell $1600 humanoid robots like Pepper

Foxconn Technology Group, Japan’s Softbank Corp and Alibaba are planning to set up a joint venture to produce robots, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported yesterday.

Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Group, and Softbank have agreed on the joint venture deal, which is scheduled to launch production by the end of this year, with an annual capacity of 10,000 units, the report said.

SoftBank and Foxconn have been working with each other since June last year, when the Japanese firm unveiled Pepper, a robot developed by Aldebaran Robotics SA, a SoftBank subsidiary in France, and built by Foxconn.

The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that the new company would first focus on mass producing and marketing Pepper.

Several enterprises in Japan have used or are planning to use Pepper, the report said. Among them, Nestle Japan Ltd uses Pepper to sell its coffee machines, it added.

According to the report, Pepper is expected to hit the general public market this summer, priced at ¥198,000 (US$1,597).

The newspaper said that Foxconn chairman Terry Gou plans to cooperate with China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to sell Pepper robots worldwide.

Separately, the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday said that Foxconn and Alibaba are planning to spend US$500 million to take a 10 percent stake in Indian e-commerce firm, and that the deal is pending regulatory approval from India.

Pepper is the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. At the risk of disappointing you, he doesn’t clean, doesn’t cook and doesn’t have super powers… Pepper is a social robot able to converse with you, recognize and react to your emotions, move and live autonomously.

An Emotional Companion

To be a true social companion Pepper needs to be able to understand your emotions. If you burst out laughing, he will know you are in a good mood. If you frown, Pepper will understand that something is bothering you.

Pepper can translate what state you are in using his knowledge of universal emotions (joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness) and his ability to analyze your facial expression, body language and the words you use. He will guess your mood, and will even adapt to it. For example, he will try to cheer you up by playing your favorite song!

Pepper also can express emotions, and this is what makes him so cute! We can say he has a real personality conveyed by his body language, his funny gestures and his voice.

A Connected Companion

Pepper is full of technological wonders. Some of these include his amazing 3D camera to perceive his surroundings and his ultrasound system used to avoid obstacles and move safely in a given space. Pepper also has tactile sensors so he can feel your touch and react accordingly.

Have a question? Looking for a restaurant? Can’t remember an important meeting or looking for the best way to get there? Ask Pepper and he will help you, using the Internet if needed.

In addition, Pepper is able to check his internal temperature and manage his battery power. You will not have to worry about Pepper losing charge and powering down; he can look after himself pretty well and find his charger if needed.

Voice and Screen

To understand you, Pepper listens to your voice and analyzes your body language. So it’s only natural that to communicate with you, Pepper uses the same! Your companion will modify his language or his gestures to adapt to the given situation. And the better you know Pepper, the more he’ll be able to help you.

He can even speak several languages!

You will also be able to interact with Pepper in other ways: your companion has a screen on his chest where he shows his emotions and what’s happening in his inner world.

Some facts and figures about Pepper:

* He weighs around 61 lbs (28 kg) and is almost 4 feet (120 cm) of pure style;
* 17 anti-pinch articulations that give him graceful and fluid movements
* 3 omnidirectional wheels allow him to move around freely
* 14 hours of battery life
* More than 40 innovative patents
* A 3D camera to perceive his surroundings and human activity up to 10 feet (3 m)

SOURCES – Aldebaran, Taipei Times, Youtube