Pepper robot to put on hold indefinitely? SoftBank confirmed.

June 30, 2021 | 2 minutes read

Pepper, the internationally famous robot that made many international appearances, is bidding us all farewell – at least for now. 

Its maker, the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, confirmed to the BBC that production had been “paused for a while”.

He further commented that it will only start making the robot if need be. Reuters reported that the firm is downsizing jobs at its global robotics operation in France. It has been reported that it will cut the number to half, which is 330 as of now.

Pepper gained popularity as to be the first humanoid robot that could read emotions. It was marketed for use as a home companion and in markets and public places. Interesting, right? Regardless of the attention it received at the international events, it didn’t turn out to become a commercial success. Reuters reported, only 27000 units have been made to date. The 4ft, 62lb robot came with a price tag of  $1,790 (£1,290).

Pepper performed many roles as appearing in front of the parliamentary select committee answering questions regarding the use of AI in classrooms in 2018. It also worked as a customer engagement robot at HSBC’s flagship New York branch and was tested as a companion in Care homes in the UK. It was used to help autistic children in schools and is currently performing duties as a receptionist around the world and etc. 

Pepper often presented the wrong image of AI capabilities to the world, says Robotics expert Prof Noel Sharkey.

He further commented that he will be happy to see an “end” to it.  It harmed the genuine robotic research by giving an impression of false cognitive brilliance that it could hold conversations whereas it was mostly remotely controlled with a human conversing through it. It is dangerous to fool people into believing something that isn’t true.