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Future Tech: 

Pepper the robot ‘with a heart’ sells out in 60 seconds


Pepper is practically a walking emoji.

Last year, we mused whether or not Pepper ‘the world’s first personal robot with emotions’ would be welcomed into homes and hearts when it was released for retail sale this summer. Well, stage one of robot takeover has been implemented and Pepper has proven to be an enormous success in Japan – with all 1,000 units sold in just one minute.

Pepper was developed by Japanese manufacturers SoftBank and is intended to be a household companion. So, apologies if you were hoping to get him her it to tackle your household chores, as it wouldn’t know where to start with a dustpan and brush. You might try these guys instead.

As for Pepper, it uses its camera, 3D sensor and microphone to read human facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. Since being revealed last year, Pepper has also undergone improvements that mean it’s not only capable of understanding human emotion, but responding with emotion of its own. It also makes some fairly adorable purring and squealing noises that kind of make us want to stroke it like a cat.

The robot has a 12 hour battery life, is Wi-Fi enabled and can travel at speeds of up to 2km an hour. SoftBank CEO Masatoshi Son says he wants Pepper to “bring more smiles to people around the world,” and the manufacturers claim that it will be useful as a domestic companion to elderly people and families alike.

It is however still unclear if Pepper serves any other purpose other than being an (artificially) friendly presence, and its manufacturers have questioned whether it will be picked up as enthusiastically in a Western market as it has been in Japan.

Find out more about Pepper (and its robot relatives Nao and Romeo) over on Softbank’s website.

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