The robotics industry has gained momentum in the recent times and the robot industry in Japan has played a key role in this growth. After introducing robots for everything from taking care of the elderly to becoming a companion and actual sex robots, Japan has now launched a robot priest that can perform Buddhist funeral rites. SoftBank’s humanoid robot Pepper can now chant sutras and perform the last rites just like Buddhist priests. Pepper was introduced with this new function at a funeral industry fair, the Life Ending Industry Expo. Robocop Commits Suicide: Pictures of Security Robot Drowning Go Viral On Twitter
The Japanese Priest has a computerised voice chanting all the sutras and tapping on a drum. This bot is providing a cheaper alternative to a human priest and reduces the funeral costs in Japan. While the human priests demand more than 240,000 yen, Pepper will be available to perform the rites for less than 50000 yen. Even as the drastic price difference works as a plus for the bot, people are hesitant about accepting a robot for this emotional moment in their lives.
Pepper is yet to perform any actual funerals, but the robot showed his skills at the show. The robot priest is actually a humanoid that is said to have the ability of ‘”reading human emotions” and made its debut in the robot industry in 2015. The bot will also be wearing proper clothing including the Buddhist robe for the role of the funeral service. According to a Japan Times report, Kanagawa-based Nissei Eco Co., which has been in the funeral business, will be offering the cheaper alternative for the services.
The humanoid priest also comes with an option of live streaming the ritual process for those who could not attend directly. But despite all benefits, there is hesitance in how people are reacting to this new options. Japan has already been using robots for everything from entertaining and taking care of elderly people in old-age homes, to being a companion and even sex partners for many. But is the world ready for a robot to perform last rites? (Edited By: Aishwarya Krishnan)