Remember Pepper, the humanoid robot that was supposed to revolutionize home robotics, help retailers get more customers in their stores, and deliver you pizza? Well, this adorable robotic helper has yet to find its purpose in the world, which is why its makers — SoftBank Robotics — are teaming up with software company Luxoft to give Pepper the people skills it needs to crush it in today’s job market.
The software company has partnered with multinational corporations such as Boeing, Ford, and Deutsche Bank. The firm’s managing director of digital enterprise, Sam Mantle, went on Cheddar’s Morning Bell to explain why he believes joining Luxoft’s software with SoftBank’s hardware can usher in a new area of mechanical assistance.
“This for use is about making robots accessible,” said Sam Mantle. “It was a great example for us to show where we can bring our premium software experience to bring [internet of things], cloud, [artificial intelligence,] and content management to a robot that can really transform the whole retail, travel, and ledger experience.”
Pepper has had a bit of a rough time during its first couple of jobs. In a BBC documentary the bright white robot is put to work as an assistant at a grocery store in Edinburgh. The staff at the store were excited to try out its capabilities but quickly realized that it was only able to give nondescript explanations of where things were in the store. Not very helpful when you can’t find a crucial ingredient for your quiche, Pepper.
Mantle wants Pepper to provide the same level, if not better, customer service that a human. A difficult task to accomplish, but one he seems confident in being able to achieve.
“Robots can automate and streamline processes in ways that humans can’t,” he explains. “Getting [customers] information in a streamlined way, that’s going to make their experience smoother and get the outcome that they’re really aiming for.”
Luxoft just announced its partnership with SoftBank on Tuesday, so you’ll have to wait a bit until you get to ask a robot where to find the salt. But if all goes according to plan, there might be a whole lot more of Pepper in retailers near you.