SoftBank, a Japanese telecommunications company, will close the production business of Pepper, the first humanoid robot “with a heart”, made it known this Tuesday Reuters with reference to sources familiar with the matter.
In fact, production of the model stopped last year, and according to two sources, it would now be expensive to restart it. The company plans to lay off about half of its 330 staff positions in France, who worked on developing Pepper.
The robot, built in 2014 in collaboration with the Chinese company Foxconn, was intended to help fill a labor shortage, but experienced difficulties finding a global customer base. That is why only 27,000 units were produced.
Another reason for this decision could lie in ‘cultural clashes’ between the French headquarters and the Tokyo management, which hampered the commercialization of the robot and consequently its sales were affected by limited functionality and unreliability.
According to Reuters sources, this setback reflects the failure of SoftBank’s board of directors plan to make the company the world leader in the robotics industry, producing machines that could serve various needs. However, SoftBank “will continue to make significant investments in next-generation robots to serve our customers and partners,” the entity’s statement reads.