Pepper the friendly robot struts its stuff in Europe ahead of commercial launch

Pepper the Robot
Pepper, SoftBank’s interactive social robot that went on sale in Japan in June, has made its European debut.

A total of seven Peppers, each one 120-cm-tall, have been put to work in various spots around a major French retail store in eastern Paris, helping shoppers with inquiries and offering suggestions on things like wine purchases, AFP reported.

The move comes as Pepper’s creators gear up for a commercial launch of the robot in both Europe and the U.S., likely next year.

Speaking on Tuesday at the WSJD tech conference in Laguna Beach, California, Magali Cubier of Aldebaran Robotics, the French firm that partnered with SoftBank to create the robot, said Pepper’s presence inside the store was mainly “to entertain people and to test how they react to seeing a robot in a shop.” Hopefully they’ll be a little kinder than the shopper in Japan who was arrested recently for giving Pepper an unprovoked kicking.

Back in Japan, Pepper is being marketed not only as an assistant for companies and businesses, but also as a companion for families and those living alone.

By all accounts, the robot has been proving popular with consumers, with SoftBank seemingly having little difficulty producing and selling 1,000 Peppers a month. Indeed, the first batch sold out in just 60 seconds. The early success comes despite its hefty $1,650 price tag, while buyers also have to fork out $200 a month to cover various service charges.

SoftBank, which markets Pepper in Japan, says its robot is able to understand the feelings of humans that it interacts with and can also generate its own emotions autonomously by processing information from on-board cameras and sensors.

Pepper conveys its own emotions via body posture, tone of voice, and color changes shown on its “heart display,” which is basically a tablet attached to its torso. And if all that wasn’t enough, it can sing, dance, and tell jokes, too.


Walmart slashes prices on iRobot Roomba and Shark Ion robot vacuums

Walmart slashed prices of top robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, and Ecovacs just in time for spring cleaning season.  With a robot vacuum on the job you can retire that old upright and let a robot vacuum take over floor-cleaning…
Emerging Tech

Tombot is the hyper-realistic dog robot that puts Spot to shame

Forget Boston Dynamics’ Spot! When it comes to robot dogs, the folks behind a new Kickstarter campaign have plans to stake their claim as makers of man’s (and woman’s) newest best friend.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

Scientists have a way to turn off alcoholism: Blasting the brain with lasers

Researchers from Scripps Research have demonstrated that it is possible to reverse the desire to drink in alcohol-dependent rats by targeting a part of the brain using lasers. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

China has cloned its best police dog. Now it wants to mass-produce more

Scientists in China have cloned the Sherlock Holmes of police sniffer dogs, with possible plans to mass produce it in the future. Here's why its creators think that's a great idea.
Emerging Tech

Scientists use drone to map Icelandic cave in preparation for Mars exploration

Researchers from the SETI Institute and Astrobotic Technology have demonstrated a way that astronauts may be able to map Martian caves using a Lidar-equipped drone that can travel autonomously without GPS.
Emerging Tech

A 3D printer the size of a small barn will produce entire homes in Saudi Arabia

If you’re looking for a 3D printer that can comfortably fit on the side of your desk… well, Danish company Cobod International’s enormous new 3D house printer probably isn’t for you.

Need a ride? Amazon is slashing prices on popular electric scooters

If you’re not much of a cyclist or if you’re looking for a lazier way to zip about town, an electric scooter should be right up your alley. Two of our favorites, the foldable Glion Dolly and the eco-friendly Razor scooter, are on sale…
Emerging Tech

Unexpected particle plumes discovered jetting out of asteroid Bennu

The OSIRIS-REx craft traveled to asteroid Bennu last year and won't return until 2023. But the mission is already throwing up unexpected findings, like plumes of particles which are being ejected from the surface of the asteroid.
Emerging Tech

Trip to Neptune’s moon, Triton, could inform search for extraterrestrial life

NASA has proposed sending a craft to Neptune to study its largest moon, Triton. Studying Triton could offer clues to how liquid water is maintained on planets, which may indicate what to look for when searching for life beyond our planet.
Emerging Tech

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover passes its tests with flying colors

The Mars 2020 rover team has been undertaking a series of tests to see if the craft will be able to launch, navigate, and land on the Red Planet. Called Systems Test 1, or ST1, these tests represent the first test drive of the new rover.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Petzl to Tikkid, here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

A hive of activity: Using honeybees to measure urban pollution

According to a new study from Vancouver, bees could help us understand urban pollution. Scientists have found an innovative way to measure the level of source of pollution in urban environments: by analyzing honey.