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Business trends

Nestle serves up robots in Japan to woo Chinese customers

Company picks Tokyo for cash-free outlet in face of Starbucks' rapid rise

"How about a coffee?" Pepper the humanoid robot asks Chinese tourists at a marketing stand for Nestle in Asakusa, Tokyo.

TOKYO -- "How about a coffee?" greets Pepper the humanoid robot in Chinese, as tourists come to an open booth on the third floor of a commercial complex in Asakusa, Tokyo's historic downtown area.

The visitor chooses the type, size and strength of coffee using the tablet held by SoftBank Group's Pepper. Once the selection is made, the humanoid places the order to a dual-arm robot built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries nearby, which makes coffee with a Nestle coffee machine and places a cup filled with the beverage on the serving tray. The entire process takes exactly three minutes and purchases can be made through Alipay, Alibaba Group Holding's mobile payment system.

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