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SoftBank unveils AI vacuum robot for offices

Whiz seen broadening robotics business beyond Pepper

SoftBank shows off its new robotic vacuum. In the foreground on the left is the company's Pepper humanoid robot. (Photo by Minoru Satake)
SoftBank shows off its new robotic vacuum. In the foreground on the left is the company's Pepper humanoid robot. (Photo by Minoru Satake)

TOKYO -- SoftBank Group on Monday launched an office-use vacuum robot powered by artificial intelligence, envisioning the product as a key to expanding its robotics operations.

The Whiz can vacuum 1,500 sq. meters in three hours, moving along a route that a human needs to "teach" it just once. Sensors and a three-dimensional camera allow it to dodge obstacles. It will be available in Japan beginning next March for a monthly rental charge of 25,000 yen ($222), and is set to hit overseas markets by the end of fiscal 2019.

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