May 20, 2016 / 3:09 AM / in 2 years

Developers look to widen repertoire of Pepper, Japan's laughing robot

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese developers of a robot are asking the public to come up with ideas for what their waist-high humanoid can do and they are offering a software development kit for programmers to get creative.

Board Director of Product Division for SoftBank Robotics Kazutaka Hasumi (R) performs with SoftBank's emotion-reading robot Pepper during a demonstration with the robot, to show its compatibility with Google's Android software, at the company's headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, May 19, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

The fast-selling robot, known as Pepper, can already laugh and serve coffee and is being used as a waiter, salesman and customer service representative in about 500 companies in Japan, including Nestle, Mizuho Bank and Nissan.

Now its creators, SoftBank Corp, have started offering a kit, Pepper SDK for Android Studio, that will allow programmers to develop new tasks.

The offer comes ahead of the July pre-sale launch of the robot in the United States.

Pepper, which costs 198,000 yen ($1,800), has been in high demand in Japan. The first six batches of the robot, each averaging 1,000 units, sold out in less than a minute.

Writing by Karishma Singh in Singapore. Editing by Robert Birsel

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