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Is the Pepper humanoid about to get a brand new lease on life? Reuters reported this morning that Softbank is in discussions to promote Softbank Robotics Europe, its French robotics enterprise, to United Robotics Group. Softbank Robotics Europe is answerable for the Nao and Pepper robots. A robotics distributor in Germany, United Robotics Group was named the grasp distributor for each robots all through Europe earlier in October.
United Robotics Group additionally distributes the Double 3 telepresence robotic, the Pudu service robotic, Boston Dynamics’ Spot quadruped, Temi, and the Sawyer collaborative robotic arm. United is backed by Hahn, a serious industrial automation participant in Germany. Hahn acquired the IP for Rethink Robotics after the corporate shut down in 2018. Hahn has since relaunched Sawyer.
The Robotic Report has reached out to each Softbank Robotics Europe and United Robotics Group. If we hear again, we’ll replace this story.
United has places of work in Austria and Germany, and is opening one other workplace in Paris, which can also be the place Softbank Robotics Europe is predicated.
In June 2021, Softbank Robotics Europe laid off 40% of its staff in Paris. An worker, who wished to stay nameless, advised The Robotic Report on the time that “the marketplace for Nao and Pepper is smaller than we anticipated.” The supply additionally stated Softbank wouldn’t be specializing in the Nao and Pepper robots a lot going ahead.
Reuters reported in June 2021 that Softbank stopped manufacturing of Pepper in 2020 and has fewer than 2,000 models left. Reuters cites unnamed sources who stated 27,000 Pepper robots have been manufactured because it was launched in 2014. Softbank, nevertheless, has continued to say it’s dedicated to Pepper.
Pepper has been a money-losing proposition because it was launched. Softbank Robotics Europe, previously often called Aldebaran Robotics earlier than it was acquired by Softbank for $100 million in 2012, misplaced $38 million in its fiscal 2019-2020 12 months and greater than $119 million over the past three years.
In line with Reuters, SoftBank will finish gross sales of recent Pepper models in 2023 on the newest. Gross sales of refurbished models will proceed after this level, Reuters reported.
It’s been clear for some time that each Nao and Pepper weren’t going to be a serious a part of Softbank’s robotics technique going ahead. In January 2021, for instance, it was introduced that Softbank Robotics will collectively develop robots with Japanese electronics maker Iris Ohyama. The three way partnership, known as Iris Robotics, by no means mentions Nao or Pepper.
The Whiz cleansing robotic is Softbank’s new flagship robotic, in line with a supply. Softbank has made different modifications to its robotics technique, most notably offloading 80% of its possession stake in Boston Dynamics to Hyundai for $880 million. It additionally paid $2.8 billion for a 40% possession stake in AutoStore, a number one developer of automated storage and retrieval methods (AS/RS), that debuted earlier this week on the Oslo Inventory Trade. AutoStore presently has a worldwide blue-chip buyer base with greater than 600 installations and 20,000 robots throughout 35 international locations.
Softbank additionally lately partnered with Bear Robotics on serving and bussing robots. Based in 2017, Bear Robotics’ robots function in eating places, company campuses, ghost kitchens, senior care services, and casinos throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. Softbank is an investor in Bear Robotics.