Japan’s SoftBank Group Plans to Donate More Than 100 Robots to Educational Institutions in San Francisco, Boston, and British Columbia, Canada
SoftBank Group Corp. (“SBG”) announced that the company will be donating more than 100 of humanoid robot, Pepper, to schools in North America. The educational initiative launched last month and incorporates Pepper into the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and Boston Public Schools (BPS) curriculums. Donations will continue through September 2021, anticipating a gradual increase in the number of students impacted by the SoftBank Group’s ongoing educational programs.
“We have been working very closely with SBG and SBRA to develop a curriculum that excites, engages and prepares today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.”
“Pepper has been utilized in classrooms to empower education through engaging and innovative tools,” says Rikiya Yamaguchi, CSR Group Manager at SBG. “Extending our program into North America is an important step in our commitment to teach students computer science and robotics, bolster STEM*1programs while providing this new engaging digital channel for education and research worldwide.”
Following SBG’s “Pepper Social Contribution Program” that kicked off in Japan in April 2017 more than 2,000 Peppers have been loaned to over 17,000 classrooms. With the goal of continuing to strengthen academic capabilities and possibilities in robotics and research, SBG is leveraging the experience and knowledge gained from the program in Japan to contribute to STEM education in North America, helping nurture future science and technology professionals.
“With our society increasingly reliant on computing, we believe all students must develop a strong foundation in computer science, regardless of their background or ultimate career. We help students develop skills and mindsets as creators of technology,” says Bryan Twarek, Computer Science Supervisor at SFUSD. “When the SoftBank Group approached us with this partnership, we jumped at the opportunity to bring cutting edge technologies into our classrooms.”
SBG will be working with SoftBank Robotics America (“SBRA”) to distribute Pepper in North America. Pepper has currently been donated to institutions including Simon Fraser University, the San Francisco Unified School District and Boston Public Schools. Pepper will continue to be used to support schools’ STEM outreach events and in “Invent the Future” workshops, which teach students about technology, as well as in schools as greeters and ambassadors. Additional donations and education initiatives will continue to be a part of SBG education initiatives.
“We expect Pepper will make the perfect partner to awaken the interest of our students in the fields of computer science and robotics,” says Mark Racine, Chief Information Officer at BPS. “We have been working very closely with SBG and SBRA to develop a curriculum that excites, engages and prepares today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.”