Pepper, the friendly robot dancing and educates travelers

Pepper has information on schedules, current promotions or the sights of the area. On his belly, a small screen features the logo of the SNCF and displays his answers, for example illustrating the promenade of the small channel with a map and photos.

“I’m not as talented as the terminals of the train, but good by cons, we agree, I really prettier. Ah! “, Asserts he bravely.

The small metal be looked up to follow the gaze his interlocutors, he captures the actions with a 3D camera. We can talk to him, and he is supposed to understand the answers. His eyes will light up in green.

But it is always very polite, Pepper is sometimes a little hard of hearing. “I’m not sure of the station, but I may have misheard,” he said and when walking in Nantes …

“I hope you enjoyed it, I enjoyed myself,” ends the playful robot before going to dance, choreography very point of “The Locomotion” – which eventually exasperate the tellers the small station, responsible for ensuring his well-being.

“It’s very nice,” finally responds the woman, who declined to give his name told AFP. “But if it is to give the routes and schedules, it’s still a lot of technology, and I imagine a lot of money for not much.”

The idea is to unload the tellers by Pepper respond to practical questions put to them more often, says director TER Pays de la Loire, David Borot, originally the project.

“Pepper supplements, it can not replace a seller to a window,” says the official, recalling that there are already distributors to buy the tickets. The staff has also not been afraid of competition from the small robot, he said.

Designed by the French company Aldebaran, a subsidiary of the Japanese group SoftBank, Pepper was installed in December in three stations of –Nort-sur-Erdre region, Les Sables d’Olonne (Vendée) and Saumur (Maine-et-Loire) – to test the reactions of travelers.

SNCF has 500,000 euros in experience. It must first take stock of this first phase, which will end in mid-March, before finding a new job if necessary at little robot.

“Is that beyond the novelty effect, it really makes sense and can be part of our services?” Asks David Borot.

Other experiments are under consideration within the SNCF group, he said: “We work with Thalys which wants to develop in Brussels, working with Eurostar who think putting it in shops, working with Gares & Connexions , which manages the stations and see how to make it do other things, working with SNCF Voyages “that also thinking animate its outlets …

At the station, as elsewhere, one of the missions Pepper, “is to recreate in-store traffic, too, facing e-commerce,” notes the director of communication of Aldebaran Aurore Chicot. “It helps make the point of sale more attractive.”

In Japan where it was launched a year ago, it makes customers wait in the shops of SoftBank, the time a seller is free. It boosted sales! Same mission at Carrefour in France, where the little robot just spent a few weeks in some stores, to the delight of children.

His next trip: to embark on ships of Costa Cruises, to inform passengers about onboard activities.

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