It looks like Softbank is broadening humanoid robot Pepper's horizons, on Tuesday announcing that the companion robot will be venturing outside of the Japan for the first time.
The Japanese telecommunications company has set up several Pepper units throughout a Carrefour hypermarket in France's Claye-Souilly region. The robots will be playing games and dancing with patrons, and will also have a photobooth service available, where customers can take a snap with Pepper and have it printed out.
"It is the first time we are getting Pepper out of Japan, so we will see the reaction of users in France," said Magali Cubier of Aldebaran, the subsidiary of Softbank that manufacturers the Pepper units. "The main focus is to entertain people and to test how they react to seeing a robot in a shop."
Cubier was speaking at the WSJDLive conference in California, where Pepper units were on hand. He added that the event was a potential first step in expanding the product into the US market.
Unlike many robotic gadgets, Pepper is designed to be a companion rather than a servant. It's programmed to communicate with users, follow vocal commands and, in what SoftBank claims is a first, read human emotions and react accordingly.