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May 20, 2016

Humanoid Pepper robot opens up to Android

News: Previously, the developer wanted to develop it as an independent platform.

By CBR Staff Writer

Softbank Robotics, the developer of the humanoid robot Pepper, has announced that it will now be available on Android in a move to broaden its appeal.

With this move, developers will be able to develop apps for Pepper through Android tools. Softbank Robotics said that the presales of models to Android developers will be available in July.

Before the presales begin, Softbank Robotics also announced the availability of Peppe SDK for Android Studio for free of cost. This software development kit will enable development of RoboApps on Android platform.

Softbank says that by making Pepper compatible with Android, Android developers around the world can use their present knowledge and expertise on Android in the development of new technology and can greatly increase support for Android.

While the Pepper SDK for Android is for free of cost, but the devices will sold for price of JPY198,000 (US$1795.86). The Pepper SDK for Android Studio is now available for download for Android developers.

Reports suggest that Softbank has sold about 10,000 units of Pepper Robot and they have been sold for loss to bring the cost down.

The Japanese technology company took this decision because of the numerous capabilities that are available with Google. Though the company wanted to make it an independent platform on its own, it could not attract software developers to make apps for the robot.

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Despite selling 10,000 units of the robot for not more than $1800 last year, Softbank actually made losses.

While Pepper Robot will still run on its native Naoqi operating system which controls the robot’s hardware, Android will only run on the chest-mounted tablet.

Developers will be making apps based on Android that will run on Pepper. It could increase the number of apps that run on the robot’s operating system and can also increase the robot’s sales.

Some experts argue that Google, which owns Android operating system, could control the approval of apps, thereby control the revenues earned by Softbank.

In an interview with Bloomberg Counterpoint Technology Market Research devices and ecosystems research director Neil Shah said: "Every operator wants to control the ecosystem, they don’t want to pay royalties and want to keep the data.

"But even Windows is struggling to attract developers to its mobile platform. So joining Android is a no-brainer for SoftBank."

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