SoftBank to invest $10 billion in Uber

SoftBank is highly likely to go ahead with its plan to invest $10 billion in Uber, the ride-hailing app company, according to a report on CNet.com

An Uber representative quoted by CNet says: “We’ve entered into an agreement with a consortium led by SoftBank and Dragoneer on a potential investment.

“We believe this agreement is a strong vote of confidence in Uber’s long-term potential. Upon closing, it will help fuel our investments in technology and our continued expansion at home and abroad, while strengthening our corporate governance.”  Continue reading SoftBank to invest $10 billion in Uber

Humanoid robot market to grow to $4 billion in five years

The market for humanoid robots is forecast to grow to $4 billion in about five years, according to a new report by ReportsnReports

The researcher values the current market at approximately $320 million in 2017. So that would mean annual growth of more than 50 per cent.

Humanoids include such robots as Pepper and Nao, which are owned by SoftBank Robotics, as well as Emiew, produced by Hitachi, and Honda’s famous Asimo, although that one is more of an exhibition robot.

The others, like Nao and Pepper, for example, are already finding many buyers. SoftBank says it has sold 10,000 units of Nao, and it releases batches of 1,000 at a time of the Pepper robot, and it sells out online within minutes.  Continue reading Humanoid robot market to grow to $4 billion in five years

Plenty attracts ‘largest-ever agriculture technology investment’ led by SoftBank to develop indoor farms in city centres

A company called Plenty claims it has attracted the “largest-ever agriculture technology investment”. 

The company says the investment will drive its development of its global, large-scale indoor farm network to deliver “radically fresher, affordable food to local communities everywhere”.

Plenty describes itself as a “field-scale indoor farming company remaking the global food system”.  Continue reading Plenty attracts ‘largest-ever agriculture technology investment’ led by SoftBank to develop indoor farms in city centres

Effects of artificial intelligence will surpass the industrial revolution, says SoftBank CEO

The chief executive of telecommunications giant SoftBank says the effects of artificial intelligence will take the world much further and have a more profound effect than even the industrial revolution. 

Masayoshi_Son
An old picture of Masayoshi Son, courtesy of Wikipedia

In an article accompanying a special edition of the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son was quoted as saying the new “information revolution” is being partly driven by data collected through billions of sensors.

SoftBank has been buying up a variety of AI and robotics startups, most recently a company called Nauto, which is developing systems for driverless cars.

At the root of the technology, Son says, are microprocessors and microcontrollers. “Those who rule chips will rule the entire world,” he said. “Those who rule data will rule the entire world. That’s what people of the future will say.”

Brain Corp raises $114 million to develop self-driving technology for robots

Brain Corp, an artificial intelligence company specializing in the development of self-driving technology for robots, has raised $114 million in a Series C funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Brain has developed AI and self-driving technology to enable robots to perceive their environment, learn to control their motion, and navigate using visual cues and landmarks while avoiding people and obstacles.

The investment will be used to further develop AI technology and create brains for multiple types of commercial and consumer robots.  Continue reading Brain Corp raises $114 million to develop self-driving technology for robots

SoftBank to buy Boston Dynamics, the maker of those unnervingly realistic humanoid and canine robots

boston dynamics bigdog

SoftBank, the maker of the Pepper and Nao humanoid robots, has reached a deal to buy Boston Dynamics, the robotics business owned by Alphabet, the parent company of Google. 

Some of the robots Boston Dynamics has been building a wide range of robots, some of which are humanoid, others canine and one or two wheeled – or a hybrid of these structures.

But whatever robots the company has made, they’ve been widely acclaimed as having some of the most realistic movements and best balance of any robots made anywhere – watching them move can be quite unnerving because they move almost exactly like humans or canines.  Continue reading SoftBank to buy Boston Dynamics, the maker of those unnervingly realistic humanoid and canine robots

SoftBank to buy ARM

softbank-pepper-robot

Japanese communications giant SoftBank is to acquire ARM Holdings for £24.3 billion, according to a report on the Financial Times website

SoftBank has been on something of a spending spree in recent years and is looking to raise its profile in markets outside of Asia, where it is already well-known.

The company is particularly interested in computer technology –including artificial intelligence, robotics and automation — and the proposed takeover of ARM would seem to fit into this plan.  Continue reading SoftBank to buy ARM

Robots being employed as receptionists and office managers

betty robot strands project
Some robot to watch over the workers

Japanese people may have become somewhat accustomed to the sight of a robot greeting them when they enter a store or some such place since robots have been employed as receptionists in Japan for some time now. 

However, Europe is catching up, with new reports of two separate instances of robots being employed as receptionists.

In one report, the Guardian highlights the employment of Pepper, the SoftBank robot, now greeting visitors and patients at hospitals in Liege and Ostend, in Belgium.

In another report, the Telegraph showcases Betty the robot, who is employed managing an office in Milton Keynes, UK. Developed by the Strands Project, Betty may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Pepper, but she has more responsibilities, such as checking to see if staff are working late and if doors are closed and so on.

SoftBank absorbs Aldebaran and adds robotics to its name

softbank robotics

Japanese communications giant SoftBank is looking to build on its increasing brand awareness outside Asia with a change of name for Europe. 

SoftBank is the company behind the Pepper robot and the Aldebaran Robotics company, which developed Pepper and a number of other robotic systems and technologies including Nao (picture).

Now, SoftBank Group has decided to rename Aldebaran as SoftBank Robotics Europe and has changed the website accordingly.

In a statement, SoftBank said the change of the Aldebaran brand name to SoftBank Robotics was “in view of increased global brand awareness and business scale in the future”.  Continue reading SoftBank absorbs Aldebaran and adds robotics to its name

Accenture and SoftBank Robotics combine to offer insight into future of customer relations

Accenture’s Peter Lacy with Pepper the robot
Accenture’s Peter Lacy with Pepper the robot

In the future, all customer relations could be managed by robots. That’s what science fiction films have been telling us for decades. And now, perhaps more than ever, that vision is becoming more real than ever. 

As part of a newly announced collaboration with SoftBank Robotics to reimagine the future of digital customer interactions, Accenture Interactive demonstrated a new prototype based on the Pepper robot in Paris at Pepper Partners Europe event during InnoRobo (May 24-26), one of the world’s largest robotics events.

Pepper is the ground-breaking humanoid robot with the ability to read emotions that was developed by Softbank Robotics (previously Aldebaran Robotics) and first introduced in Japan in 2014.

The enhanced Pepper-based platform blends human and artificial intelligence, provided by Accenture Interactive, to deliver omni-channel customer service and commerce capabilities – including social media, mobile and in-store applications.  Continue reading Accenture and SoftBank Robotics combine to offer insight into future of customer relations

Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners

Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners
Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners

Cruise liner company Costa Group has signed an exclusive agreement with the French company Aldebaran for a pilot project with Pepper robots.

Aldebaran, which is a subsidiary of the SoftBank Group through SoftBank Robotics Corp, said the contract was worth more than a million euros.

Pepper is the world’s first robot that reads main human emotions, says the company, adding that it is ideally suited to help and delight guests on board of cruise ships. Aldebaran adds that Pepper will improve guest experience and provide help and entertainment on board the ships of the Costa Group’s cruise brands: AIDA and Costa.  Continue reading Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners