Belgian hospitals introduce robot receptionists

June 13, 2016
The robot Pepper during a press conference oat the CHR Citadel hospital centers of Liege on June 13, 2016

His diction is still a little odd, and his movements sometimes a bit hesitant, but Pepper the robot is all geared up to help patients at two Belgian hospitals.

The humanoid assistant, who has a screen on his chest and a round head, is the first in the world to be used to greet people in a medical setting, his software creators said.

Pepper is taking up reception duties at hospitals in Ostend and Liege, where he was unveiled at the Centre Hospitalier Regional La Citadelle on Monday.

Standing 140 centimetres (4 ft 7 in) tall and equipped with wheels under his white frame, Pepper can recognise the human voice in some 20 languages and detect if he is talking to a man, woman or child.

In Liege the robot helper, who costs about 30,000 euros, will for the moment remain in the hospital's reception area.

But at the AZ Damiaan in Ostend, he can accompany visitors to the department they are looking for, said Raphaël Tassart of Belgian firm Zora Bots which developed the software inside his robot brain.

Robots like Pepper, whose components come from Asia but are assembled in France, have already been tested in Japanese shops and a few large French malls, generally carrying out retail functions.

"But it's the first time that they will be used in reception," said the spokesman.

Another line of smaller robots made by the same company, the 57-centimetre tall Nao, have already been deployed in some 300 hospitals and retirement or care homes around the world.

In Liege and Ostend, they are used as a support tool in the paediatric and geriatric departments.

Explore further: Friendly robot Pepper makes European debut in France

Related Stories

Japan robot owners warned off droid sex

September 26, 2015

The company behind a chatty Japanese humanoid named Pepper has felt the need to remind customers who purchase the robots not to engage in sex with them.

Recommended for you

Inert nitrogen forced to react with itself

March 21, 2019

Constituting over 78 % of the air we breathe, nitrogen is the element found the most often in its pure form on earth. The reason for the abundance of elemental nitrogen is the incredible stability and inertness of dinitrogen ...

Two-step path to shrinking worker bee gonads

March 21, 2019

The dramatic difference in gonad size between honey bee queens and their female workers in response to their distinct diets requires the switching on of a specific genetic program, according to a new study publishing March ...

Plant immunity cut to size

March 21, 2019

An international team based in Ghent, Belgium (VIB-UGent Center for Plant Systems Biology) and Basel, Switzerland (University of Basel), found a link between a class of enzymes and immune signals that is rapidly triggered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.