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Chirpy robots to sell Nescafé to Japanese

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Chirpy robots to sell Nescafé to Japanese
Photo: AFP
10:11 CET+01:00
Nestlé has hired George Clooney to promote its Nespresso coffee but the Swiss-based food giant is employing a fleet of chirpy robots to sell its Nescafé products in Japanese stores.

Pepper, a cheeky and chatty android, which its makers claim can answer customers' questions, is pitching for Nescafé rather than the Hollywood heartthrob.
   
"How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee," Pepper asked a TV personality at a promotion event on Monday.
   
The 120-centimetre (four-foot) tall robot has a human-like face perched on top of a white plastic body, with rollers and what looks like a tablet computer on its chest.

Nestlé earlier announced plans to use the robots in Japan.
   
The gimmick will eventually see 1,000 stores across the country with their own Pepper, which makers say can understand up to 80 percent of conversations.
   
The robots will "help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper," said a joint statement from Nestlé and SoftBank, whose French arm Aldebaran developed the technology.
   
Pepper, which was unveiled in June by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son, already sells mobile phones at SoftBank's 74 Japanese stores, where it has been used to collect customers' opinions.
   
Engineers claim the robot's artificial intelligence has allowed it to expand its conversational ability by listening to what customers say.
   
The robot will go on sale to the public in February, with a price tag of 198,000 yen ($1,670) plus monthly fees.

Editor's note: This article was corrected to state that the robots are being used to sell Nescafé — not Nespresso products. 
 

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