Its acquisition of Aldebaran in 2015 did not go as well as SoftBank had hoped. At the time, the French robotics startup was best known for its Nao, which had become a fairly ubiquitous presence in research facilities around the world. The tiny humanoid robot formed the basis of SoftBank Robotics’ best-known creation, Pepper. Nao mostly took a step back as the company pushed to market its new robot.
Pepper was a brand ambassador at best, good at holding signage at airports and restaurants. Last June, reports surfaced that SoftBank was shutting down production of Pepper, and in October it was announced that the company hoped to sell SoftBank Robotics Europe completely. Earlier this year, German company United Robotics Group agreed to acquire the division and today announced that it would bring back the space-inspired name.
The newly reconfigured Aldebaran is one of eight robotics brands under the URG umbrella. Its new parent promised “to improve our offerings for existing products such as Pepper and Nao”. He adds that SoftBank retains a vested interest in the company, noting:
SoftBank Robotics Group continues to support our robotics progress as a shareholder of United Robotics Group and will remain our primary distributor in Japan and Asia.
Aldebaran will retain its head office in Paris.