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SoftBank to put customer-service robots in stores

TOKYO -- Japanese mobile carrier SoftBank is developing a robot that can carry on conversations with people, with plans to introduce them at some of its cellphone stores around the summer.

     This is part of a larger move to position the robotics business as a pillar of growth. President Masayoshi Son will likely announce the plan on Thursday.

     The plan is to first use the robots in customer assistance. After accumulating the know-how of sophisticated interactions with humans, the company hopes to develop the knowledge further into a household robot that can be used in nursing care for the elderly, among other uses.

     Production will be outsourced to Taiwanese electronics manufacturing service giant Hon Hai group. Softbank will work to further improve the robot by tapping the technologies of Aldebaran, a French robot venture in which it took a stake in 2012.





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