Earlier this week SoftBank Robotics America announced a new set of upcoming features and enhancements for the humanoid robot Pepper, including chatbot integration for more meaningful engagements with users, as well as enhanced front office capabilities. The new solution for chatbot integration is built on the Microsoft Azure cloud-based platform, however, customers will have the option of relying on other platforms such as MSBot or Dialogflow, or include their own in-house solution. Either way, the end goal for Pepper is to be more helpful to colleagues while introducing customers to the world of robotics.
According to SoftBank Robotics America, the chatbot integration will allow Pepper to engage in more personalized interactions with users through a new set of skills including intent matching and multi-threaded conversations for diverse customer interactions, an easy-to-use and modern two-way communication platform, the ability to tackle multiple customer requests and interactions, all the while facilitating the rapid deployment of natural language processing and machine learning capabilities. Meanwhile, Pepper's new front of office capabilities will allow the robot to create a better first impression as the first point of contact for businesses. Visitors will be able to connect with their host through a dedicated guest sign-in feature that notifies customers through text message alerts, and Pepper will be able to tell a better company story through entertaining and proactive interactions. Finally, the latest enhancements will include a dedicated and customizable web-based FAQ application.
Pepper was first introduced several years ago as a robot assistant for businesses who may want to leave a better or unique first impression to customers, and allow human employees to engage in more meaningful tasks. Features like facial recognition interactions and chatbot integration were designed with ease-of-use in mind, giving businesses the option of customizing Pepper without requiring development skills or extra expenses. Pepper was first introduced to the Japanese and European markets a few years ago in 2015, and the robot also reached US shores in 2016 while last year it was adopted by Sprint. It was also employed by the Mall of America and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group where its success has been unmatched, according to the CEO of Satisfi Labs, Don White. At the moment the Pepper robot has a starting price of $25,000.