Meet Pepper, the robot receptionist in a Belgian hospital

  • A robot was hired as a receptionist at the AZ Damiaan hospital in Belgium
  • The robot called ‘Pepper’ can speak 20 languages and recognize emotions
  • It costs £23,000 for its especially designed software

A Belgian hospital has just welcomed their newest addition to their staff: Pepper, a humanoid robot that speaks and understands 20 languages.

Developed to improve social and health care by the Belgian company Zora Bots, Pepper, which has a whooping  £23,000 price tag for its specially designed software,  joined the medical team as a receptionist at the AZ Damiaan hospital in Ostend, as per an article published by Mirror.

Pepper will introduce visitors to the hospital, provide information and guide visitors and patients to the correct floor and room.

With a speed of just 3km/h (1.8mph), Pepper is also able to guide slower patients. Fully charged, it can work for up to 20 hours on its own.

“The robot itself is 1.20 meters high, so it is not like Arnold Schwarzenegger with a leather jacket and an ‘I will be back’ robot,” said Zora Bots co-chief executive Fabrice Goffin. “It is a quite nice robot and the reactions are positive for the moment.”

During its first week, Pepper was assigned to work at the hospital’s maternity department.

“It is another way of making contact and maybe it is reassuring that it is a robot for some people,” said Bieke Vandeputte, one of the patients at the maternity ward. “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.”

This is not the first time the Pepper robot held a job. As per an article published by PC Magazine, the robot has previously worked at Nissan, various financial institutions, and a cell phone store in Tokyo.

Unveiled in June 2014, Pepper comes with a 10.1-inch touch display to monitor emotions via changing colors and movements, as well as voice-recognition technology — enabling human-to-humanoid communication. It can also make gestures like an arm wave or head nod.