Softbank’s Pepper Robot has been hired by one of the world’s biggest restaurant chains, Pizza Hut.
Following the launch of Pepper Robot last year, Softbank has partnered with Mastercard and Pizza Hut to offer a new way for customers to pay for their deep dish pizzas across the Asia-Pacific region.
Upon its announcement to the world, CE Pro Europe claimed that Pepper Robot was the world’s first AI robot with a heart, with Pizza Hut hoping to capitalise on the bot’s universal likeability.
While cashier at Pizza Hut is not exactly the most glamorous job for the robot, Softbank is hoping to showcase the versatile scenarios that Pepper Robot can be used in.
“Pepper can replace a digital kiosk experience, so instead of putting a bunch of tablets or display units in your restaurant, you would have the ability to put a robot in its place and have that cognitive experience,” MasterCard VP Tobias Puehse tells TechCrunch in a statement.
“Approach the restaurant, order some takeaway and Pepper would take you through that ordering experience.”
Pepper Robot is manufactured by Foxconn but its design and smarts comes from the Japanese giant Softbank, which launched the robot as the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. While the goal is to have Pepper Robot in the households of consumers, commercial applications are also being explored across the board.
With its partnership with MasterCard, Pepper Robot is capable of interacting with consumers based on their past spending habits and can even adjust its communication skills dependent on the customer’s mood. That’s especially useful in a restaurant environment, where it can often be hard to communicate with an unhappy customer.
“Pepper has the ability to do emotional sensing,” notes Tobias. “It gets a sense of whether the consumer is happy or sad. That can help to make it engaging. Pepper would potentially adjust the ordering process for a customer who is happy or existed. Pepper could potentially make some jokes, etc. It actually responds to how the consumer is feeling. It’s almost like digital empathy.”
While the Asia-Pacific region is the obvious choice for MasterCard to roll out Pepper Robot to Pizza Hut restaurants, it only did so due to the region’s existing familiarity with the robot. If all goes well however, the companies expect to roll out the bot to more restaurants and markets.
Pepper Robot has already garnered quite a few fans in the region but he won’t be replacing humans anytime soon. “This is complimenting the experience. It’s not meant to replace human interaction,” Tobias confirms. “Pepper makes transactional components of the experience more fun and engaging. You have the ability to make a more informed ordering experience than previously with a cashier, because it knows what the customer’s personal preferences are. “