Pepper the robot has lost jobs because people 'expect the intelligence of a ...

Pepper the robot has lost jobs because people 'expect the intelligence of a ...
Pepper the robot has lost jobs because people 'expect the intelligence of a ...

It was launched to much fanfare seven years ago, but it appears Pepper, the friendly humanoid robot, may soon be on the scrapheap.  

The $1,790 (£1,290) machine, which is battling to stave off retirement after its maker said last month that production had been 'paused for a while', keeps getting fired from jobs.

It has been sacked from roles at a nursing home, funeral business and bank because people 'expect the intelligence of a human', one expert said of Pepper, which is one of the first humanoid robots able to 'read' emotions.

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Sacked: Pepper the robot (pictured), which is battling to stave off retirement after its maker said last month that production had been 'paused for a while' , keeps getting fired from jobs

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Sacked: Pepper the robot (pictured), which is battling to stave off retirement after its maker said last month that production had been 'paused for a while' , keeps getting fired from jobs

It has lost jobs at a nursing home, funeral business (pictured) and bank because people 'expect the intelligence of a human', one expert said of Pepper, which is able to 'read' emotions

It has lost jobs at a nursing home, funeral business (pictured) and bank because people 'expect the intelligence of a human', one expert said of Pepper, which is able to 'read' emotions

Despite the failures, SoftBank Robotics said Pepper still has a number of other jobs, including teaching children, taking temperatures at hospitals and entertaining diners at a cafe in Tokyo

Despite the failures, SoftBank Robotics said Pepper still has a number of other jobs, including teaching children, taking temperatures at hospitals and entertaining diners at a cafe in Tokyo 

WHAT ARE PEPPER ROBOTS? 

Emotion-reading robots called 'Pepper' were designed by Japanese company Softbank Robotics.

The expressive humanoid is designed to identify and react to human emotions.

Equipped with cameras and sensors the robots are 4ft (1.2 metres) tall and weigh 62lb (28kg).

They can react to human emotions by offering comfort or laughing if told a joke.

Developers say the robots can understand 80 per cent of conversations.

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They also have the ability to learn from conversations in both Japanese and English. 

They have already been used in a number of places, including banks, shops and hotels. 

In 2016 SoftBank replaced staff at a new phone store in Tokyo with 10 humanoid Pepper robots to give suggestions and answer questions from customers.

Nescafe also hired 1,000 Pepper robots to work in home appliance stores across Japan to help customers looking for a Nespresso coffee machine. 

Another robot developed by Softbank Robotics was deployed at a hotel on Lake Garda.

Named Robby Pepper, the robot was taught a list of questions such as the locations of the spa and restaurants and their opening hours. 

The firm says the humanoid companions have even been programmed to recognise the needs of elderly care home residents.

Tablets on the robots' chests mean residents can Skype call people, watch or listen to something, or be reminded when to take pills. 

These robots represent an expansion in automation, but one that is likely to be scaled up only when better artificial intelligence is developed.

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It was billed as a great home companion for elderly people and promoted for use in public places such as railway stations and shops, but never really caught on as a commercially viable product.

Only 27,000 units were ever made, in part due to its hefty price tag, and Japanese conglomerate SoftBank has said it will only start making the 4ft, 62lb robot again 'when it is needed'. 

That is unlikely to be anytime soon considering the number of jobs it has been fired from, including reading scripture to mourners.

Nissei Eco Co., a plastics manufacturer with a sideline in the funeral business, hired the child-sized robot, dressed it in Buddhist clergy robes and programmed it to chant scriptures

But it kept breaking down during practice runs so the company ended its lease of the robot and sent it back to the manufacturer. 

Takayuki Furuta, head of the Future Robotics Technology Center at Chiba Institute of Technology, which wasn't involved in Pepper's development,

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