Eva Airways has introduced the latest addition to its ground staff – a robot known as Pepper – at Taipei Songshan Airport.
A total of three Pepper robots are in service at the international counter of Taipei Songshan Airport and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport’s VIP lounge.
Pepper’s job will be to welcome passengers and tell them where food, fun activities, and duty-free products and shopping areas can be found.
The robot can interact with passengers, shake hands, chat and play games.
It will also be able to scan codes on boarding passes, display boarding gates and boarding times, as well as inform passengers of the weather conditions at their destination.
In addition to entertaining visitors, the robots, can record passenger habits and preferences and other information in order to improve the quality of service in the future.
Initially, Pepper will offer service in standard Mandarin, but it will eventually become familiar with foreign languages, such as Japanese and English.
Pepper is 121-cm high and weighs 29 kilograms. It has 20 flexible joints and 27 sensors. Using its 27 sensors, the robots can automatically recognize the principal human emotions and select behavior best suited for the situation.
The robot was developed by Japanese tech company Softbank and manufactured by Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn).
Since its introduction earlier this year, Pepper has been used by a number of Taiwanese companies, including First Commercial Bank, the Bank of Taiwan, Cathay Life Insurance and Pingtung County government.
Foxconn is expected to ship a total of 60,000 Pepper robots from its plant in Shandong, China in 2016, valued at US$500 million, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report.
The Shandong plant is currently rolling out 2,000 Pepper robots a month and is shipping the robots to the US and Europe, in addition to the initial markets in Japan and Taiwan.
Foxconn and the Alibaba Group have a 20% stake each in SoftBank Robotics Holdings.
The number of robots trialed at airports (and ports) is increasing and includes:
- AnBot at Shenzhen Airport
- ASIMO at Tokyo Narita
- Athena at Los Angeles
- EMIEW3 at Tokyo Haneda
- Leo at Geneva
- Norma, Amelia, and Piper at San Jose
- ‘Sheldon’ at Indianapolis
- Spencer at Amsterdam Schiphol
- Unnamed at Seoul Incheon
- Zunpeng Xiaobao for Shenzhen Airlines
Our favourites remain AnBot at Shenzhen Airport with the cattle prod and the Sheldon Cooper lookalike at Indianapolis.
N.B. Image credit: EVA Air