Robot priest available for hire for funerals in Japan

The robot priest is on display at the Life Ending Industry Expo, a funeral industry exhibition, in Tokyo.

Tags: Robots
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Robot priest available for hire for funerals in Japan The robo-priest only costs a fifth the going rate for a human priest. (photo courtesy of Reuters)
By  David Ndichu Published  August 23, 2017

A Japanese company is showcasing a robot Buddhist priest for hire at funerals at an industry fair in Japan, Reuters reports.

Based on SoftBank's humanoid robot "Pepper", the android priest chants sutras while beating a drum, and is on display at the Life Ending Industry Expo, a funeral industry exhibition, in Tokyo.

Nissei Eco Company, a plastic moulding maker, wrote the chanting software for "Pepper", which was introduced by SoftBank Group Corp. in 2014.

With Japan's population ageing and shrinking, many Buddhist priests receive less financial support from their communities, prompting some to find part-time work outside their temple duties, Reuters quoted Michio Inamura, Nissei's executive adviser as saying.

The funeral robot could step in when a priest was not available, he said. It also cost less at 50,000 yen (about $450) per funeral compared to more than 240,000 yen ($2,200) for a human priest.

The robot has apparently not yet been hired for a funeral, yet.

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