Smart robots need more complex algorithms: SoftBank Robotics

Updated 2017-07-20 10:45:23 Global Times
Softbank Robotics's humanoid robot Pepper stands in the company's Shanghai office.

Softbank Robotics's humanoid robot Pepper stands in the company's Shanghai office.

Robots are products of the future. Though robotics companies are facing financial pressure in the short run, their products will reshape society, a general manager of SoftBank Robotics told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The company's flagship product, the humanoid robot Pepper, has been struggling as its debt mounted to 4 million, the Japanese financial news outlet Nikkei Asian Review reported on July 12.

Designed to be a genuine day-to-day companion, Pepper is able to perceive emotions and interact actively with humans.

Besides Pepper, the company has also developed two other robots: NAO and the upcoming ROMEO.

Pepper, the company's major service robot product, has already been used in places like Nescafé sales outlets in Japan, the company's website showed. However, it has not been put on the Chinese market yet, although Foxconn Technology Group, a major original equipment manufacturer of US technology giant Apple, has started to produce it.

China has been seen as a booming service robot market.

The country's spending on robotic systems, which include industrial, service and consumer robots and after-market robotic hardware, is expected to reach billion in 2020, industry research firm IDC forecast in April.

Investment on robotics deployed in the consumer industry is expected to grow 38 percent annually until that year.

After Pepper was unveiled in 2014, with backing coming from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding and Foxconn, some domestic robot manufacturers came up with products with a similar look and function, Leo Chen, China key account manager of SoftBank Robotics, told the Global Times.

"The hardware of some robots [made by Chinese companies] still lags behind the products made by their foreign competitors," he said.

Intelligent robots require complex algorithms, so SoftBank Robotics has a positive outlook on robotics.

"The recent purchase of Boston Dynamics, which has a strong academic background," will help the company's robotics sector to grow, Chen added.

Chen began working for French robotics firm Aldebaran Robotics in 2012, which was later purchased by the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank Group.

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