Pepper the Robot
Pepper is a humanoid robot which has various social functions, including, for example, communicating with and assisting people or being deployed in the service sector. Pepper is used by inovex in research and development (e. g. in the inovex lab) and is constantly being programmed with custom functions for various purposes.
Pepper in the inovex Lab
For several years now, we have used interaction-oriented robots like Pepper (and Nao) which were developed by French robotics pioneers Aldebaran (now Softbank Robotics) and which are used primarily as guides and companions for humans. The inovex Lab is designed both to promote young researchers through providing internships and facilitating thesis and project work and to enable our experts to continue their education and research. inovex team member Silvia Santano has been working intensively with Pepper in this connection, and summarises the results in her blog article "Affective Robots: Emotionally Intelligent Machines".
As a partner of SoftBank Robotics, we are focusing on the further development of Pepper’s communication-relevant capabilities, including interpreting human language and gestures. We are particularly interested in developing Pepper’s emotion recognition capabilities and associated interactions. All programming carried out until now has been written in Python and implemented in Android using the new Qi SDK. Since the outset of our partnership with SoftBank Robotics, we have researched and developed new functions and capabilities for Pepper, including the integration of external AI services (including those from Google and Microsoft). In particular, we have carried out a large number of experiments involving computer vision and language recognition. We are currently developing navigation functions for Pepper using the new Android SDK.
Pepper at the ICSR Conference
We describe our work with Pepper in a scientific article which we published and presented at the ICSR (International Conference on Social Robotics) 2018 in New York. The paper was honoured with the Best Paper Award at this conference.
Pepper at Stuttgart’s STELLWERK WEST
Pepper is currently appearing at STELLWERK WEST in the heart of Stuttgart. STELLWERK WEST is a location which can be booked by companies for meetings, workshops and corporate events. This modern complex, with its designer furniture and sophisticated technology, is the perfect location to showcase Pepper. Visitors attending events at STELLWERK WEST have the opportunity to get to know Pepper and to interact with him. Pepper is “employed” there as a member of the service staff. He can introduce himself, provide visitors with the wifi password, give directions to the bathrooms and take selfies with visitors. Pepper also provides other insights into his personality: he is ticklish and can even tell jokes.
Pepper at Stuttgart’s Gerber Shopping Centre
Pepper’s appearance at Stuttgart’s Gerber shopping centre in October 2017 was the result of a PhD research project carried out jointly by the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg and the Munich-based consulting firm elaboratum. The robot was used to discover ways in which humanoid robots could be deployed in brick-and-mortar retail locations and to analyse how customers react to these social robots: Would customers rather talk to a robot than a human? Do they talk differently to a robot than to another person, and if so, how? Visitors to the Gerber shopping centre were able to see for themselves how it felt to talk to – and even take selfies with – a robot. While the Uni Erlangen-Nürnberg and elaboratum were responsible for the concepts behind the versatile robot’s capabilities, inovex programmed it.
Pepper at the Digital Leader Awards
The Digital Leader Awards recognises those corporate leaders and top executives who have been instrumental in shaping the digital transformation in their companies. Following introductory remarks by Dr. Christoph Tempich, inovex’s Chief Data Economist, at this year’s prize-giving ceremony on 29.06.2017 in Berlin, Pepper interacted with participants in one of the hotspots, most notably recognising their emotional status (facial expressions), rendering these graphically on a tablet and reproducing them with gestures.
Pepper at Girls'Day
At Girls’Day, girls learn about careers and courses of study in IT, manual trades, the natural sciences and technology; areas in which women have, until now, typically been underrepresented. inovex organises the Girls'Day every year at its Karlsruhe location, enabling girls to learn about a variety of exciting projects, including getting to know Pepper and his functions more closely and even giving him commands to perform.
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