Furious Japanese man attacks phone shop robot

SoftBank Group representative Masayoshi Son and humanoid robot Pepper deliver a presentation at the SoftBank World 2015 in Tokyo on July 30, 2015.
SoftBank Group representative Masayoshi Son and humanoid robot Pepper deliver a presentation at the SoftBank World 2015 in Tokyo on July 30, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - A Japanese man who allegedly attacked a phone shop robot in a drink-fuelled rage because he was angry at customer service has been arrested, media said.

Kiichi Ishikawa, 60, was captured on security camera aiming a kick at the 120cm-tall Pepper, a talking android used by mobile phone chain SoftBank to gather customer feedback.

Reports suggested Ishikawa, who appeared to have been drinking, was annoyed at his treatment at the hands of a human member of staff, and took his annoyance out on the automaton.

Pepper, a moon-faced robot on rollers that has what looks like a tablet computer attached to its plastic body, has been billed by its makers as a human companion capable of understanding language and emotion.

The alleged attack on Sunday morning in a store in Kanagawa, near Tokyo, appeared to have slowed the speed of the robot's reactions and dulled its movement, according to Sponichi, a tabloid newspaper.

Kanagawa prefecture police told AFP they were investigating how much it will cost to fix the robot, which is on sale at 198,000 yen (S$2,300) plus monthly fees.

SoftBank has hundreds of Peppers in its stores nationwide.

As well as being offered for sale as a companion in robot-obsessed Japan, Pepper is also being used to sell coffee machines in one chain and greet customers at a Japanese bank.