Robot sells out in less than a minute

PEOPLE PLEASER: Pepper takes a picture with a fan
PEOPLE PLEASER: Pepper takes a picture with a fan

JAPAN’S first life-size personal robot, with the ability to understand feelings, has again sold out within a minute of going on sale.

“Pepper”, which can live autonomously in a person’s home, costs 198 000 yen (R22 800) and has the appearance of Casper the Friendly Ghost in 3D.

The latest batch of 1 000 robots sold out after they were put up for sale online at 10am on Saturday, a Taiwanese newspaper reported on Sunday.

The child-size automaton was developed by Japanese telecom giant SoftBank and Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry.

The makers called Pepper a social companion for humans, claiming that the androgynous house-bot is the first of its kind to respond to human emotional signifiers, such as laughing or frowning.

The first batch of Peppers hit the market in June. Since then, four batches have gone on sale.

The latest model boasts new refinements, including the ability to memorise and store data on human responses by using cloud technology-based artificial intelligence.

Videos of Pepper have circulated on YouTube, in which the nearly 1.2m robot responds to questions and commands in Japanese, in a high pitched squeaky voice.

On the basis of these studies, technology experts noted that Pepper is not the best listener but has a distinctly cheeky side.

One of the robot’s favourite questions is: “So you are very chic. Are you a model?”

In one conversation, when asked how old it was, it replied: “In human years, I don’t know how old I am but as I robot I was made in 2014.”

–Charlotte Middlehurst/ The Telegraph

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