SoftBank’s Pepper robot programed to do Buddhist funeral rites in Japan

(Reuters) – A Japanese company features a brand new role for SoftBank’s humanoid robot “Pepper” – a Buddhist priest services at funerals.

Chanting sutras inside a computerized voice while tapping a drum, the robot was displayed on Wednesday in a funeral industry fair – the Existence Ending Industry Expo – in Tokyo, japan.

Nissei Eco, an unlisted plastic molding maker, authored the chanting software for “Pepper”, that was created by SoftBank Group in 2014.

With Japan’s population ageing and shrinking, many Buddhist clergymen receive less financial support using their communities, prompting some to locate part-time work outdoors their temple responsibilities, stated Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive advisor.

The funeral robot could part of whenever a priest wasn’t available, he stated. Additionally, it are less expensive at 50,000 yen (about $450) per funeral when compared with greater than 240,000 yen ($2,200) for any human priest.

Buddhist priest Tetsugi Matsuo stated he found the expo to find out if Pepper could “impart the ‘heart’ aspect to some machine because I have faith that the ‘heart’ may be the first step toward religion.”

The robot hasn’t yet been hired for any funeral.

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