Softbank Robotics Europe to lay off 40% of workforce

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Softbank Robotics Europe, the developer of the Nao and Pepper robots, is laying off 40% of its workforce. The company will also be divesting from its direct sales channel for Nao and Pepper, and will instead focus on commercial products such as the Whiz autonomous floor cleaning robot.

The layoffs come as Softbank Robotics Europe has struggled to make a profit. The company lost $38 million in its fiscal 2019-2020 year, and more than $119 million over the last three years.

Anonymous insiders reveal that the market for Nao and Pepper proved smaller than anticipated, necessitating the reduction in workforce to address economic issues. The Nao and Pepper robots were never a major commercial success. Most of the 27,000 Nao and Pepper robots that were sold were in Japan, where there is a greater acceptance of humanoid robots. In other parts of the world, the robots were often criticized for being too expensive and not having enough capabilities.

Going forward, Softbank Robotics Europe says that it will continue to provide product sales, services support, and maintenance for Nao and Pepper robots. However, the company will be focusing its future investments on commercial products such as the Whiz.

The sources for this piece include an article in AnalyticsWeek.

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