Skip to main content

Next up for Alibaba: Robots

[cw_slider id='201646']

Tokyo -- Alibaba wants to put a robot, specifically one named Pepper, in your home — or store.

The Chinese e-commerce giant and Foxconn Technology Group announced they are each investing $117.8 million in Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank’s robotics unit, SoftBank Robotics Holding Corp. Softbank will own 60% of the joint venture, with Alibaba and Foxconn each holding ownership stakes of 20%.

The three companies plan to bring SoftBank’s human-like robot, Pepper, to global markets, envisioning it for use across a range of sectors, ranging from healthcare to at home. Pepper is already in use in some stores in Japan, including SoftBank’s mobile phone shops where it welcomes customers.

The white plastic robot was designed by French robotics company Aldebaran Robotics, a subsidiary of SoftBank. Billed as the “world’s first personal robot with emotions,” it can reportedly recognize human voices and read facial expressions and body language. It can also carry on basic conversations.

"As we enter the data technology era, robotics will become a critical field that catalyzes technological breakthroughs in numerous sectors such as healthcare, public services, research and at home,” said jack Ma, founder and executive chairman, Alibaba Group Holdings. “We are delighted to play an active role in the emerging field of robotics, that with cutting-edge technology and transformative products and services, can positively impact millions of lives.”

SoftBank plan to make the robot available to the public on Saturday.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds