Softbank Debuts Pepper in U.S. with New Developer Tools


Pepper is finally coming to America. SoftBank said today that its chatty humanoid robot, unveiled with great fanfare by the company’s founder and CEO Masayoshi Son two years ago, is expected to debut in the North American market later this year. SoftBank also announced that a new developer portal is now available to anyone interested in creating applications for the robot. And tomorrow at Google I/O, SoftBank engineers will take the stage, along with Pepper, to introduce a tool that they hope will entice more developers to build apps for the robot: an Android SDK.

“We’re so excited to see what the development community can bring on to our platform,” Steve Carlin, vice president of marketing and business development for SoftBank Robotics America, told IEEE Spectrum, adding that “ultimately what is going to really power Pepper is the creativity of this community.” He said the company doesn’t have an official launch date but wanted to start building momentum for Pepper’s arrival.

Carlin, who was Facebook’s global head of strategy for gaming before joining SoftBank, explained that businesses, not home users, will be the initial focus in the U.S. market. Today, a number of big retailers in Japan and Europe are using Pepper as a robotic helper to assist customers. These companies include SoftBank’s own mobile subsidiary, which has dozens of robots at its Tokyo stores, as well as businesses such as Nestlé, Nissan, and Carrefour. In Japan, Pepper is also available to individuals who want to use it at home. SoftBank said it has sold more than 7,000 units to consumers and companies

Read the source article at IEEE Spectrum