Pepper the robot is opening up to Android

SoftBank looks to Google to help its robot baby grow up.

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Devindra Hardawar
May 19th, 2016
Pepper the robot is opening up to Android
SoftBank's Pepper robot is about to get a lot more developer-friendly. The Japanese firm announced today that it'll be opening up Pepper's tablet to Google's mobile OS, in the hopes of spurring on its capabilities with new apps, Bloomberg reports. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son initially wanted to keep Pepper's entire platform closed, and it took a loss on every $1,800 robot it sold to drive its cost down. Unfortunately, despite selling around 10,000 units, developers have been slow to bite.

SoftBank will still use its Naoqi operating system to control Pepper's hardware -- Android will only run on its chest-strapped tablet. The company isn't saying what sort of business deal it's struck, but Google typically takes a 30 percent cut from Android app revenues. We also don't know how much the robot will be able to take advantage of Android's features. The recently announced Google Assistant AI could actually be useful in a humanoid robot that can move on its own.

SoftBank is still trying to figure out a purpose for Pepper, hence the need for more developer interest. As an experiment, it staffed an entire phone store with several Pepper units earlier this year, but that was only temporary.

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