Pepper robot's first stop outside Japan is France [UPDATED]

Given the growing number of more human-looking robots as well as those that are supposedly "emotionally intelligent", there is once more a resurgence of debates surrounding these hi-tech computers encased in humanoid form. Despite that, it seems that Softbank's own Pepper is doing quite well in a limited Japanese market, well enough that Japanese telecom giant has taken the robot outside of the country for the first time. Sadly, it's not the expected US debut just yet. Instead, Pepper's first destination is France.

The choice of country might not be that surprising. Aldebaran, makers of both the Pepper and Nao robots, is after all a French company though 96 percent owned by the Japanese Softbank. Before selling Pepper to a wider audience, however, Aldebaran plans to put Pepper to the test, putting the robot in a store to entertain shoppers. Right now, only games, dances, and photo booth applications are available. In the future, maybe the robot might also be able to assist buyers in their choice of products as well.

Pepper launched in the Japanese market only last June and it has already met with wild success, which isn't surprising given this is Japan after all. However, when you consider the $9,000 price tag, $1,600 upfront and the rest as a three-year subscription, then selling 4,000 units with than time frame isn't exactly peanuts either. Pepper's main appeal has been the robot's ability to detect and respond to emotions, mostly by studying the person's face. It also probably helps that it doesn't look too human, at least not enough to call references to uncanny valley.

Pepper isn't expected to arrive in the US until next year, which gives developers lots of time to tweak the robot's personality to fit the American culture, which is to say snarky and even sassy. Aldebaran has not revealed whether the French models have had similar personality changes as well.

UPDATE: This piece has been updated with information from Aldebaran.