SoftBank robot rejig offers glimpse into future – Reuters

French robot Pepper, detecting whether people are wearing face masks and if not, instructs them to wear them, is displayed at French robotics developer SoftBank Robotics in Paris as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread out across France, September 8, 2020.

LONDON, June 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) – The robots are still coming, but they might be a little less scary. That’s one interpretation of Masayoshi Son’s decision to rewire his bets on the sector. Reuters reported on Monday read more that the Japanese billionaire’s SoftBank Group (9984.T) is slashing jobs at its global robotics business, which produces the flagship automaton Pepper. It comes a week after the technology investor completed a majority sale of Boston Dynamics, whose robots move and act like humans or dogs.

Yet on Monday, Son’s second Vision Fund led a $600 million investment round in CMR Surgical. The $3 billion company’s Versius kit helps doctors perform keyhole surgery. In effect, Son is ditching the idea of general-purpose robots that could replace humans in customer-service roles and other jobs, while backing more specialised machines that work alongside surgeons. That’s arguably good news for shop workers and bar stewards, even if Hollywood directors may be disappointed. (By Liam Proud)

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Editing by Neil Unmack and Karen Kwok


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