Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) Invests $118 Million In Humanoid Robots
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) has poured $118 million in SoftBank Robotics Holdings (SBRH) as part of its investment in humanoid robots. SBRH recently launched a robot called Pepper, which has emotional capability – a first in the world.
Previously, SBRH was owned by SoftBank, but it has become a joint venture. Currently, SoftBank remains the majority holder of SBRH with 60% stake, but other investors have a stake in the startup. Alibaba’s stake in SBRH is now 20% following the latest investment and Foxconn’s stands at 20%. Foxconn also invested $118 million in SBRH to earn its stake.
SoftBank got hold of French robotic company Aldebaran in 2012, laying the ground for the formation of SBRH later that year.
Alibaba’s chief excited about Pepper
According to Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma, including emotions in Pepper is the beginning of a potentially major revolution. Ma says that people will be able to understand themselves better with Pepper.
There is a great chance, Ma says, that robotics will drive the next phase of major changes in various sectors. For example, he believes that robotics will transform the way people think, thereby boosting invention.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA)’s Ma sees robotic industry playing a key role in transforming medical treatment, smart-homes and the public service for the better.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) is investing in robotics as the company sees a brighter future for the technology. In China’s Made in China 2025 strategy, robotics is listed among the top 10 industries to achieve the economic goal.
Putting Pepper to into use
Pepper is expected to find wide application in education and digital entertainment. The robot can help school children with their homework and take care of the elderly. Additionally, it can address digital entertainment needs.
It is estimated that the consumers and business market for robots will reach $1.5 billion in 2019. The use of robots is shifting from being more of industrial tool to homes and offices, widening the market in the process.
Pepper is priced at about $1,600 and has already been deployed by SoftBank at its various stores.
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