If you always wanted a robot butler to greet guests, amuse kids or be a live-action version of Cortana, you're way too late. The Pepper robot that does all that sold out exactly one minute after it went on sale in Japan on Saturday, according to manufacturer SoftBank Robotics. The company built a modest 1,000 units for its Japanese consumer launch, selling it for $1,600 with a monthly $200 fee. The 4-foot robot is not designed to fetch you drinks or do other manual work, but rather to listen, read your emotions, then respond appropriately. It can also sing, dance and tell (corny robot) jokes.
SoftBank didn't say who purchased the robot, but its earlier statement that "we think there's value in a robot that can understand human feeling" was obviously accurate. The company said that it envisioned Pepper working as a store greeter, helper for the elderly or as a school learning assistant. It has also peddled coffee in a Nescafé store. It remains to be seen if demand will stay strong, but the company will open up orders again in Japan in July, and plans to bring it to Europe and the US sometime next year.
[Image credit: AFP/Getty Images]