Pepper, a humanoid robot receptionist, is the latest employee at Belgium’s AZ Damiaan hospital in Ostend. Sharon Reich reports.
Robot receptionist gets job at Belgian hospital
UPSOUND: HELLO MY NAME IS PEPPER CAN I HELP U WITH SOMETHING?
It’s easy to see why this humanoid robot got the job as the newest staff member at Belgium’s AZ Damiaan hospital.
Pepper speaks 19 languages, knows her way around the place, and has the perfect bedside manner.
Employed to welcome patients and visitors, it was developed by Belgium’s Zora Bots to improve health care.
The company’s Fabrice Goffin says Pepper is not like other humanoid robots on the market.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) CO-CEO OF ZORA BOTS, FABRICE GOFFIN, SAYING:
“The robot itself is a metre 20 high, so it is not like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a leather jacket and an ‘I will be back’ robot, it is a quite nice robot and the reactions are positive for the moment for as long as it does not take jobs but it is not the case for Pepper.”
The robot was designed with specialized software that works on any device with internet access.
A complete charge gives it up to 20 hours of walk and talk time. And at a mellow pace of 3 kilometres per hour all patients are able to keep up with Pepper, even slower moving ones.
In its first week on the job, Pepper was assigned to the maternity ward.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) MOTHER, BIEKE VANDEPUTTE, SAYING:
“It is another way of making contact and maybe it is reassuring that it is a robot for some people. So it can be, I know. The baby was really sure, he did not mind putting his hands on it. It did not frighten him so I think it will be important. Especially for children,” she said.
With a personal touch like Pepper’s, heading to the hospital could become a new kind of experience, one that even puts a smile on patients’ faces.