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Softbank enters robotics with emotional humanoid

TOKYO (AP) -- Softbank Corp. is entering the robotics business with its Pepper humanoid-on-wheels that it says is designed for companionship and can decipher human emotions.

The Japanese mobile carrier said Thursday Pepper will go on sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen ($1,900). Overseas sales plans are under consideration but undecided.

The machine, which has no legs, but has gently gesticulating hands appeared on a stage in a Tokyo suburb, cooing and humming. It dramatically touched hands with Softbank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son in a Genesis or "E.T." moment.

Son, who told the crowd that his longtime dream was to go into the personal robot business, said Pepper has been programmed to read the emotions of people around it.

It was developed jointly with Aldebaran Robotics, owned by Softbank.
   AP-WF-06-05-14 0749GMT