We may have to say goodbye to SoftBank’s adorable humanoid robot Pepper. According to Reuters, the Japanese conglomerate halted production of the robot last year and is cutting jobs at robotics-related companies in several countries. Apparently there wasn’t much demand for Pepper, and SoftBank only ever produced 27,000 units made by Foxconn.
Nikkei also reported that Pepper’s production had been halted due to weak demand, but the SoftBank rep he spoke to denied that the company was killing the robot entirely. “We plan to resume production if demand picks up,” the spokesperson said.
While the pepper out of print In less than a minute when it was released in Japan in 2015, the company produced just 1,000 machines for its consumer launch. Pepper was designed as a social robot capable of recognizing basic human faces and emotions, in order to be able to interact with people. Most of the units produced by SoftBank are leased to corporate customers, and the company has also placed the robot in its mobile phone stores in Japan.
With a price tag of over $ 1,600, however, Pepper is a bit overpriced for most developers and small businesses. ReutersSources said its sales suffered from limited functionality and unreliability. In addition, SoftBank was unable to provide the robot with more functionality due to cultural conflicts between its company. France in charge of robotics projects and its management in Tokyo would have affected the development of Pepper.
After SoftBank focused on the Whiz cleaning robot, Pepper was sidelined. The company plans to cut around half of its 330 jobs in France in September, Reuters said, and half of sales positions in the United States and Britain had already been cut.
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