Pepper, the humanoid robot from SoftBank, is headed overseas for the first time after going on sale in Taiwan today.
Pepper went on sale to consumers in Japan in June 2015 and then enterprise customers — who pay for the bot on a three-year rental basis worth around $16,000 — the following October, so this branch out has been a long time coming. Robot lovers in Taiwan shouldn’t get too excited by today’s news, though, the launch is just for enterprises companies right now — don’t expect to take Pepper home with you just yet.
Sales in Taiwan being managed by Perobot — a subsidiary of Foxconn. Together with Alibaba, Foxconn made a $236 million investment in SoftBank Robotics Holdings (SBRH), the division behind Pepper, so that explains why Foxconn’s native Taiwan was picked as the first international sales stop outside of Japan.
There are no details on a U.S. launch for Pepper at this point, but there have been hints of planning. Android developers were granted deeper access to the tech behind the bot at Google I/O earlier this year, while SoftBank has shown Pepper’s potential by creating an entire store staff by the affable android, partnering with Honda to make a Knight Rider-esque (dream) car, and landing its young protegé a job at Pizza Hut.
A program to encourage developers in Taiwan to work with Pepper ran last month, while the robot has already been put to use at government offices in the country. Pepper’s global adventure begins today.