Pepper sure gets around.
SoftBank’s android, the one that can understand human emotions and respond accordingly, has been seen helping out at train stations, department stores, and even hospitals around the world. In its home country of Japan, you’ll see the four-foot-tall bot inside many SoftBank stores, though admittedly not all of the customers take kindly to its presence.
The latest facility to call on Pepper for assistance is Oakland International Airport a short distance from San Francisco.
The human-like robot was designed by SoftBank in collaboration with French robotics company Aldebaran SAS and launched in 2015. Equipped with an array of sensors and advanced facial-recognition technology, it can understand the emotions of the person it’s interacting with and engage in conversation. It can also act as an entertainer thanks to its ability to sing, dance, and “pepper” its audience with jokes.
Visitors to Oakland’s main airport will find Pepper in HMSHost’s Pyramid Taproom in Terminal 2. Besides welcoming travelers, Pepper is also offering food and drink recommendations, and helping passengers with directions to their gate and other locations throughout the airport.
“With this program, travelers from all over the world will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Pepper,” Steve Carlin of SoftBank Robotics America said, “getting a taste of the future of hospitality and travel.”
SoftBank has been promoting Pepper as a fun way for retailers to attract more customers, describing the bot as “an immediate draw that can drive traffic, inspire shoppers, make product recommendations, and present real-time analytics to help you better understand your customers and their need.”
Digital Trend’s Ryan Waniata had a ball when he got to hang out with Pepper at CES last year. Check out their friendly encounter here.
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