In its short “life”time, Pepper the robot has seen and accomplished much more than many of us humans could ever hope to do. As one of the world’s first emotion-recognizing personal robots, Pepper is one hot commodity, and it’s no wonder that it sold out in less than a minute when placed on shelves in Japan. But if you weren’t able to get your hands on one of these smiling humanoid bots from Aldebaran, fret not — you can now see Pepper in action at French train stations.
While human customer service may be subject to human emotions, Pepper won’t ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed or spill coffee on itself in the morning — but it will have the emotional IQ to help out anxious travelers. Really, it’s a win-win.
Across three different train stations in France, Pepper will help across a variety of tasks, including welcoming guests (both arriving and leaving the station), offering travel information like train timetables, and of course, giving tips about what to do in local communities. It’ll also be collecting customer satisfaction surveys, and something tells me that filling one out at the behest of a smiling robot will yield some pretty high scores.
Pepper will begin its new job this month and will keep this latest position until mid-March of 2016, whereupon officials from the French National Railway Company (SNCF) will determine whether or not to expand the program and bring Pepper to other locations in the country.
Given the robot’s unique combination of machine precision and almost human “empathy,” the Pepper robot may be the closest model on the market capable of actually taking a human’s job. But of course, that’s not its purpose. Rather, according to the Aldebaran website, Pepper is simply meant to serve as a “companion able to communicate with you through the most intuitive interface we know: voice, touch and emotions,” and most importantly, live autonomously among humans.