The much-anticipated emotional robot named Pepper went on sale in Japan last Saturday and all 1,000 models sold out within a minute.
Designed by Aldebaran for SoftBank, Pepper represents a new use for robotics: instead of using a robot to clean or cook, people are purchasing this one for empathy and company.
Pepper is designed to be an engaging companion who can read facial gestures, understand words, and gauge moods. The more time it spends with one person, the better it comes to understand their individual likes and dislikes. At four feet tall, Pepper's battery lasts up to 14 hours, and has already been used in stores, interacting with customers. Pepper is able to speak English, French, Japanese and Spanish at this time.
The robot sold for the equivalent of $1,613 this past weekend, with the CEO of SoftBank stating that profits are not the initial goal - this price will rise over time, but for now, the more people interacting with the robots, the more they will learn to read emotion through varied data. It is expected that more products will be ready for sale in July.