Could Robots Replace Funeral Directors?
The future of funerals? Robot priest launched to undercut human-led rites.
It doesn’t seem likely but one Japanese company is trying to make it happen.
The idea of a robot replacing a funeral director doesn’t seem like something that could every happen. According to the website Replacedbyrobot.info, there is only a 20% chance that a robot could replace a human funeral director. But don’t tell ‘Pepper’ that. Pepper, a Buddhist priest for hire at funerals, is a humaniod robot created by SoftBank Group Corp.
Chanting sutras in a computerized voice while tapping a drum, the robot was on display on Wednesday at a funeral industry fair – the Life Ending Industry Expo – in Tokyo.
Nissei Eco Co., an unlisted plastic molding 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, said Michio Inamura, Nissei’s executive adviser.
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.
Buddhist priest Tetsugi Matsuo said he came to the expo to see if Pepper could “impart the ‘heart’ aspect to a machine because I believe that the ‘heart’ is the foundation of religion.”
The robot has not yet been hired for a funeral.
In Japan robots can serve as companions, helpers for the elderly, entertainment bots and even sexual partners, and now as a Buddhist priest for funerals.
In the good old US of A we spend our time freaking out about cremation and trying to find ways to slow it down. Could you image if you had to compete against robots too?
In Japan a robot priest is almost 6 times less expansive than a human priest.
Maybe we should look into robot funeral directors as a way to make death more affordable!!! (Just kidding).
Images: SoftBank Group Corp.
Latest posts by CDFuneralNews (see all)
- It’s Time to Think About Going Out of Business - July 12, 2018
- NFDA Releases Ninth Edition of “The History of American Funeral Directing” - July 10, 2018
- MOVIN AND GROOVIN CONVENTION STYLE | FUNERAL hustle 023 - July 10, 2018
You may be interested
It’s Time to Think About Going Out of BusinessCDFuneralNews - July 12, 2018
This is an open letter to funeral directors and the owners of family-owned funeral homes that have worked tirelessly for decades to build their businesses to where they are today, only to feel less secure than ever before.
Surprising “Ashes Bank” Helps Save India’s Ganges River from PollutionJustin Crowe - July 12, 2018
The Ganges River is a spiritual center for Hinduism and as the population of India grows the ancient rituals are putting…
Learn How This 85-call Funeral Home Generated 28% More Calls in 2018Justin Crowe - July 10, 2018
When speaking with funeral homes, one of the most common reasons funeral directors give for not having an active social…