A young boy talks with the robot Pepper during a press conference on June 13, 2016 at the CHR Citadel hospital centers of Liege
John Thys—AFP/Getty Images
By Simon Lewis
June 14, 2016

Two hospitals in Belgium have employed robots to welcome patients and visitors, in what is reportedly the first use of automata to greet people in a medical setting.

The robot, named Pepper, was unveiled Monday at a hospital in the eastern city of Liege, where it will act as a receptionist, Agence France-Presse reports. The cartoon-featured humanoid robot, which costs about 30,000 euros ($33,800), is also being introduced at another facility in Ostend — in northwest Belgium — where it will perform the extra function of guiding visitors to the hospital’s appropriate departments.

Pepper the robot is manufactured by Tokyo-based tech firm SoftBank and versions are assembled in France, where they have already been tested out in a few shopping malls.

The robot, described by its makers as “kindly, endearing and surprising,” has a tablet computer mounted on its chest. It interacts with humans using cameras and microphones fitted in its head and touch sensors in its head and hands.

[AFP]

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