No sex with Pepper the robot, owners warned

SoftBank, the company that sells the robot named Pepper, said lewd acts with the machine could trigger punitive action.
SoftBank, the company that sells the robot named Pepper, said lewd acts with the machine could trigger punitive action.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TOKYO • The company behind a chatty Japanese humanoid named Pepper has felt the need to remind customers who buy the robots not to engage in sex with them.

Mobile phone giant SoftBank, which sells the units in Japan, states helpfully in its user agreement: "The policy owner must not perform any sexual act or other indecent behaviour."

Pepper - who, according to its makers, can read people's emotions - costs US$1,600 (S$2,270).

SoftBank warns buyers the droid cannot be used outside. Other clauses prohibit using Pepper to send out spam e-mail but the ban on sex with the plastic machine - which stands just 120cm and moves on rollers - is the most baffling, causing social media in Japan to light up in amazement.

While SoftBank wants Pepper to behave like a good little robot and not a spicy sex-bot, the fine print is somewhat ambiguous, with some people taking it to mean customers are not barred from physical relations with the droid, just from using it for "improper purposes".

SoftBank said lewd acts could trigger punitive action, although exactly what kind of punishment offenders faced - and how anyone would ever find out - was not made clear.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 27, 2015, with the headline 'No sex with Pepper the robot, owners warned'. Print Edition | Subscribe