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Chatty 'emotional' Japan robot makes friends on first day of work in Tokyo store

Published on Jun 6, 2014 5:16 PM

TOKYO (AFP) - A chatty humanoid robot whose makers claim it can understand people's emotions made its first friends on Friday as it struck up conversations with shoppers in Tokyo.

And the device - named Pepper by its designers - proved an effective marketing tool for mobile carrier SoftBank, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions.

"So you came to meet me today?" asked Pepper of one shopper in the store in the upmarket Omotesando area of Tokyo. "I am so happy to see you. What are you doing this weekend?".

The 120cm-tall robot that moves on rollers and has what looks like a tablet computer strapped to its chest, was unveiled on Thursday by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son, who billed it as an "emotional" robot that understands "70 to 80 per cent of spontaneous conversations".

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