SoftBank’s robot Pepper to be rolled out in Taiwan later this year

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SoftBank Corp’s (9984.T) human-like robot Pepper will be rolled out in Taiwan later this year with about 100 rented units making their appearance in some banks and Carrefour SA (CARR.PA) shops, executives handling Pepper’s sales in the island said on Monday.

Taiwan is set to become one of the first markets outside of Japan to launch Pepper, a key plank in SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son’s vision of future technology centered on ‘internet of things’, a network of devices, vehicles and building sensors that collect and exchange data.

The island is also home of the robot’s contract maker Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (2317.TW).

However, Pepper won’t be available for sale or to consumers yet in Taiwan, which like many other markets, has yet to widely adopt human-like robots as part of a regular lifestyle.

The goal is to rent out 60 robots a month by sometime in the first half of 2017, Foxconn executive director Lu Fang-ming told reporters at a briefing.

The banking units of First Financial Holding Co (2892.TW) and Taishin Financial Holding Co (2887.TW), the life insurance arm of Cathay Financial Holding Co (2882.TW) and Taiwanese telecommunication carrier Asia Pacific Telecom Co (3682.TW) are expected to put Pepper into their frontline service to support the basic needs of customers, said Lu, who is also chairman of Asia Pacific Telecom.

Carrefour plans to start by putting two Pepper robots into its shops in Taiwan, said Marilyn Su, national marketing director for the French retailer. Su said the first mission for the robot is to get to know the customers and see how they interact with Pepper, especially children, before ordering any more.

Foxconn unit Perobot Co, which is in charge of sales and maintenance for Pepper in Taiwan, said Pepper is available for lease in a two-year contract at T$26,888 ($836.67) per month.

(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)