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SoftBank's Pepper robot will set developers back a pretty penny

SoftBank is preparing to launch its first robot into the Japanese market, but before the official launch it will offer the Pepper robot to developers for £5,850.

In a move similar to Google Glass' Explorer Edition - costing £1,000 to get in the beta test - early developers will be able to work on applications for Pepper alongside reporting bugs and performance issues.

SoftBank will allow customers to pay £1077 down for the Pepper robot, followed by £133 each month for three years. The monthly payment covers network access and insurance if Pepper is damaged.

Pepper is a helper robot, featuring hands to carry objects and a chest tablet for humans to interact with the robot. IBM's Watson runs inside Pepper, an artificial intelligence service that learns from previous experiences.

SoftBank claims Pepper could be used in all types of home and work situations, removing the need for autonomous tasks like carrying the shopping, washing the dishes, cleaning the house and potentially cooking in the near future.

The robot does need applications and services to make it useful however, since SoftBank is not a great source of software innovation. The company wants to utilise the robots 3G and 4G networking to sell to customers.

It is a hefty price for a robot with limited capabilities at the start, but developers tend to be more interested in the possibilities than the current features. SoftBank has yet to announce a full SDK for Pepper, meaning developers will have to work around barriers.

The robot will only launch in Japan for now, but large tech companies interested will be able to pick the Pepper robot up. SoftBank did not give any details as to a launch date for Pepper, meaning it is probably still a fair way off.

David has been a technology journalist for over six years, covering a wide range of sectors. He currently researches apps, app sectors and app markets for Business of Apps, and has written for ITProPortal, RTInsights, ReadWrite, and Digital Trends.