SoftBank CEO: Smart Robots Can Revitalize Japan Growth, Competitiveness

Asian Tech Press (SEP 16) -- SoftBank Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Masayoshi Son said that intelligent robots would "liberate" humans from boring jobs and help revive Japan's economy and competitiveness.

SoftBank's Pepper robot was launched in 2014. The robot has a touch screen around its neck and is designed to interact: it can talk, make gestures, give instructions and give advice. However, the robot sold poorly. In June, SoftBank reportedly halted the production of its Pepper robot and that it would restructure its robotics business and lay off employees in its robotics operations. About half of its 330 employees are scheduled to be laid off in France this September.

The commercial failure of the Pepper robot does not seem to have doused Masayoshi Son's enthusiasm for robots, who remains bullish on the future of intelligent robots. He believes that intelligent robots will not only replace the workforce in manufacturing and industry, but will even replace all the workforce.

Son said that SoftBank's Vision Fund is working with 18 companies to develop artificial intelligence (AI) enhanced machines.

In addition, SoftBank has made other adjustments to its robotics strategy, most notably the sale of 80 percent of Boston Dynamics to Hyundai for $1.1 billion.

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