Snakes on planes? Nah, just robots on ships
A critical position on any cruise ship is the concierge. The concierge makes sure everything goes according to plan: if you need directions, advice, a lounge chair or even the weather forecast. Whatever the need it’s just another feather in the cap of the ship’s concierge.
Come the end of April those responsibilities will be given a test run by several robots named Pepper. All of which will join Costa Cruises, a branch of Carnival, as the newest crew members.
A little Pepper, please
According to Tech Republic, the 4-foot humanoid robot (built by Aldebaran, a SoftBank company based in Paris) “Is designed to read human emotions.” And while these robots may not be the first to work on a cruise ship they are, “The first to interact with vacationers in a broader way, providing directions, information about destinations, entertainment, and general assistance.”
Pepper can be programmed to speak several languages, which as you can imagine is important on a cruise ship where the passengers come from all over Europe.
So it helps that Pepper is trilingual, speaking English, German, and Italian, with the potential to tack on additional languages later on.
Costa had the foresight to look to the future and understood quickly that this could be something quite interesting to help the crew help the customers who accept nothing less than impeccable service.
Jobs go bye-bye?
Conversely, while most other robots are built for repetitive chores, Pepper is designed to respond to people’s tone-of- voice and the way they’re speaking. They’re more suited for the service area and a labor-intensive area. An earlier article on TechRepublic explains that “Robotics is now doing work that is increasingly cognitive and non-routine.”
In other words, “The next wave of jobs that will be replaced are lower-level white-collar workers, which require some cognition and a lot of repetition.” A perfect fit for a robot such as Pepper.
Apparently demand for the robot with a heart is high. When Pepper went on sale last year around this time an article on ZD Net reported that “One thousand of the four-foot-tall humanoid robots went on sale and all sold within a minute.” The company that builds Pepper (Aldebaran, a SoftBank company based in Paris) has followed through with plans to build 1,000 bots a month.
In the meantime, your next cruise, at least on the Costa Line, may have a little robot helper to show you the way around.