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SoftBank’s Robot Has Been Failing At Its Job, Won’t Come For Yours Soon
By Alexa Heah, 20 Jul 2021
Image via SoftBank Robotics
Back in 2014, Japanese firm SoftBank launched ‘Pepper’, a humanoid robot. However, despite the fanfare and media attention Pepper received upon its introduction, the robot has since failed at many of the simple tasks it has been given.
According to The Wall Street Journal, various organizations have given the humanoid robot a shot, allowing it to entertain elderly residents in nursing homes or greet guests in bank lobbies.
Unfortunately, it has not lived up to its hype, causing some companies to decline renewing their contracts with SoftBank. It’s also been reported that people are selling off their used Peppers online for a few hundred dollars each.
Pepper has been said to be prone to mechanical errors and breakdowns, and has also failed to recognize customers it’s met before. One company had tried to train the robot to recite scriptures at funeral services, but it kept breaking down during practice sessions.
A robotics expert told the Journal that SoftBank might have inadvertently raised customers’ standards by making the robot resemble a human, thus disappointing them further with the final result.
As per Inc., a single Pepper sells for approximately US$2,000 with an additional US$550 subscription fee per month, making it a rather steep purchase. Many experts have weighed in to say that the robot’s functions could be executed at a lower cost by smart speakers or even smartphone assistants, such as Siri and Alexa.
The company has also released another version of a robot assistant: NAO, though it’s unclear if this model is performing significantly better than its predecessor Pepper.
For a robot that promised to revolutionize the world and sold out of its first batch of 1,000 in just a single minute, it sure doesn’t seem SoftBank’s robots will be coming for your job anytime soon.
[via INC, cover image via SoftBank Robotics]
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