Last updated: 02:55 PM ET, Tue December 15 2015

Meet Pepper, Costa Group's Friendly Cruise Ship Robot

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Costa Cruises | Jason Leppert | December 15, 2015

Meet Pepper, Costa Group's Friendly Cruise Ship Robot

Photos courtesy of the Costa Group

Following in the recent footsteps of Honda’s ASIMO or even the cinematic CHAPPiE comes the Costa Group’s automaton at sea – Pepper. Pepper comes from French company ALDEBARAN, a subsidiary of the SoftBank Group, and will service AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.

Originally introduced in June 2014 in Japan, Pepper robots are the first designed to recognize primary human emotion and their environment to service people. After a trial run interacting with guests and crew on AIDAstella, Peppers will roll out on AIDAprima and Costa Diadema in spring 2016. They will assist with passenger embarkation and onboard recommendations for dining, events and shore excursions, in perfect German, Italian and English. By summer 2016, more robots will join the AIDA and Costa fleets.

"With the world's first deployment of an emotional robot on board a cruise ship, we are once again continuing our tradition of innovation. For us, this is an important step towards a digital future for our brands. I am confident that our guests will love Pepper," said Michael Thamm, CEO of the Costa Group.

Technically, the Pepper interface employs the latest voice and emotion recognition techniques and its movements are fluid thanks to the following feature set according to the group:

• Pepper is 120 cm and weighs 28 kg
• 17 joints for graceful movements
• 3 omnidirectional wheels to move with agility
• 1 3D camera for detecting people and their movements and interact with them
• A 10-inch touch screen

"I'm very happy that the Costa Group gave us this opportunity. For the first time ever, Pepper will be used in the cruise industry. Pepper is built to interact with humans, their emotions and needs and will perfectly fit to improve AIDA's and Costa's travelers' experience," said Fumihide Tomizawa, President of Aldebaran and SoftBank Robotics Corp.

The exclusive agreement for the new technology represents an investment of over a million euros.

Putting any trepidations of Skynet aside, it’s actually a fun idea that is sure to inform as well as entertain. My experience with shipboard robotics has been a positive one, and this takes the technology to a whole new level, especially as these robots are more humanoid in appearance and look to be more personable in interaction than Royal Caribbean International’s already impressive robotic arms on its new Quantum-class ships.

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