Coffee with Pepper? Robot sells espresso machines in Japan02 december 2014, 12:28
Move over George Clooney -- Nestle has added a fleet of chirpy robots to sell its coffee machines in Japanese stores, AFP reports.
The Hollywood heart-throb, who is the global face of the Swiss giant's Nespresso brand, has been joined by Pepper, a cheeky and chatty android, which its makers claim can answer customers' questions, to promote its Nescafe marque.
"How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee," Pepper asked a TV personality at a promotion event Monday.
The 120-centimetre (four-foot) tall robot has a human-like face perched on top of a white plastic body, with rollers and what looks like a tablet computer on its chest.
The gimmick will eventually see 1,000 stores across Japan with their own Pepper, which makers say can understand up to 80 percent of conversations.
The robots will "help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper," said a joint statement from Nestle and SoftBank, whose French arm Aldebaran developed the technology.
Pepper, which was unveiled in June by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son, already sells mobile phones at SoftBank's 74 Japanese stores, where it has been used to collect customers' opinions.
Engineers claim the robot's artificial intelligence has allowed it to expand its conversational ability by listening to what customers say.
The robot will go on sale to the public in February, with a price tag of 198,000 yen ($1,670) plus monthly fees.
George Clooney, meanwhile, will not.