New batch of Pepper robots sell out in 1 minute

A new batch of 1,000 Pepper robots jointly developed by Japanese telecom giant SoftBank Corp. and Taiwanese contract manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. sold out in one minute after they were put up for sale in Japan Saturday. It was the fifth batch of the robots, which went on sale in the Japanese market after SoftBank unveiled the bot on June 18.
Pepper, created to function as a "social companion for humans," is touted by its makers as not only being able to read human emotions, but also to respond to emotional signifiers such as laughing or frowning.
Softbank has upgraded the Pepper robot, and the new version is able to memorize and store data on human responses by using cloud technology-based artificial intelligence applications developed by the company’s subsidiary, Cocoro SB.
Hon Hai is rolling out Pepper robots on production lines located in its factory in Yantai, in China’s Shandong Province. At 10 a.m. Saturday, Japan time, the 1,000 Pepper robots, priced at 198,000 Japanese yen (US$1,636), were put up by SoftBank for sale online, and sold out in one minute, the Japanese firm said.
SoftBank sold out the first batch of 1,000 units in one minute after they were put up for sale online June 20. The second to fourth batches were also snapped up by consumers promptly. The Japanese high-tech firm said that the sixth batch of Pepper robots is scheduled to go on sale online Nov. 28.
According to Japanese media, Hon Hai, known as Foxconn outside Taiwan, started to produce Pepper robots in February, churning out five per hour. Currently, the hourly production has risen to 10 units on the back of Hon Hai’s efforts to speed up the pace of production.
The reports said that Hon Hai is planning to further boost production to 15 units per hour by raising the number of workers on the production lines to 1,000 from the current 700 and employing automation in the production process.