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Nestle Japan hiring 1,000 robots to sell espresso machines

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Nestle Japan robots
New initiative   At stores across the country

Nestle said that its Japan unit plans to hire 1,000 robots as sales clerks at stores across the country.

The first batch of the robots, a humanoid called Pepper, will report to work by the end of this year at outlets that sell coffee capsules and home espresso machines.

“From December, they will start selling coffee machines for us at big retail stores,” said Nestle Japan spokeswoman Miki Kano. “We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.”

Pepper, which has already been chatting with customers at SoftBank’s outlets, has proved an effective marketing tool for the Japanese mobile carrier, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions. The 120-cm-tall robot, which moves on rollers and has what looks like a tablet computer strapped to its chest, was unveiled in June by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son. He billed it as an “emotional” robot that understands “70 to 80 percent of spontaneous conversations.”

Pepper is set to go on the market from February for about $2,000 apiece.

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