SoftBank, the Japanese telecommunications giant which has in the past few years become a huge force in the robotics market, is set to halt production of Pepper, the humanoid robot, according to a report by Reuters.
The news agency cites sources and documents to say that “production of the humanoid Pepper… was stopped last year”, adding that “it would be costly to restart production”.
Pepper was being manufactured by Foxconn, famous for being Apple’s main manufacturer.
However, on its own website, SoftBank says it “intends to keep Pepper and Nao robots business moving forward”. Nao is another one of SoftBank’s humanoid robots.
It adds that it has long-term investments into its humanoid robotics business and will “continue to make significant investments in next-generation robots to serve our customers and partners”.
SoftBank did admit that it will reduce the number of employees at SoftBank Robotics Europe, which currently has approximately 330 staff.
In the statement, it says: “In the light of the pandemic and economic slowdown, SoftBank Robotics Europe is considering a significant workforce optimization plan. Our EMEA HQ located in Paris is home to about 330 employees, as of March 2021.
“In this difficult time, we want to thank all our employees for their efforts in creating the best humanoids on the planet, and will make the best efforts to ensure fair departure decisions with labor representatives and local consultation bodies in France. The current round of job cuts should be completed by the end of 2021.”