The Australian town of Brisbane will host the country’s biggest robotics festival named Robotronica, scheduled for August 20 at Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus. The visitors of the festival will have the opportunity to be greeted by Pepper, world’s first “social” robot.
Pepper will showcase his social skills by joking, dancing and chatting with audience members. However, Pepper was not designed to do heavy physical work, but instead he is meant to be a “friend”, someone you can talk to. “Pepper is really designed to be a companion robot, not really designed to do physical tasks as much as to be there to have a conversation with, to provide information, to get people interacting,” said Belinda Ward from the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, which was a part of a team working on Pepper. Ward and her colleagues at the Centre applied new technologies on Pepper’s vision, enabling him to better identify the objects surrounding him and navigate more easily. Pepper is able to speak 19 languages and has already been hired by companies around the world to work as a receptionist, but researchers that developed him hope that one day robots such as him will have a significant part in our everyday lives, especially in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Besides Pepper, the festival will present the latest applications of robotic technologies in healthcare and education, showing a glimpse of how hospitals of the future will look like. Visitors will also have a chance to witness robot battles and hear about the effect robots would have on the future of certain industries.