In another sign that Pepper is, at this point, more appropriate for the commercial market, Pizza Hut is bringing the humanoid robot into restaurants in Asia to work as cashiers.
Softbank, which makes Pepper, has partnered with MasterCard to allow Pepper to process payments. Using the MasterPass digital wallet, Pizza Hut customers will be able to pay Pepper by connecting their MasterCard app and then tapping the Pepper icon within the app. Users can also connect by scanning a QR code on the tablet that the robot holds.
If you frequent Pizza Hut often, Pepper will even be able to give you personalized recommendations based on your ordering history. After you’ve finished your meal, Pepper will use the card in your MasterPass wallet to pay for the meal.
“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 told TechCrunch. “Approach the restaurant, order some takeaway, and Pepper would take you through that ordering experience.”
MasterCard said Pepper will arrive in Pizza Hut restaurants in Asia in late 2016. There’s no word on Pepper being used at Pizza Hut restaurants in the United States, but Softbank announced at Google I/O that Pepper will be making its US debut later in 2016, focusing initially on the commercial market.
Pepper Not Having Trouble Finding a Job
The commercial angle shouldn’t come as a surprise as Pepper is already being used by approximately 700 businesses, according to Softbank’s Shohei Fujiwara. Pepper is probably best known for selling iPhones at Softbank mobile stores in Tokyo, but it also joined two cruise lines and is helping a Tokyo half-way house mentor ex-cons in hopes of preventing them from committing future crimes.
You might also see Pepper working at hotels. The Nao robot, also made by Softbank, was tested as a concierge at the Hilton McLean in Virginia. The Nao robot, called Connie, answered questions from guests about nearby restaurants, tourist attractions and more. However, Carlin told The Robotics Trends Show that ultimately Pepper will replace Nao as the robot concierge of choice.
To tap into Pepper’s potential, Softbank also announced at Google I/O an Android SDK for the robot. Developer versions of Pepper will cost around $1,800 when they go on sale in July. IBM Watson is also coming to Pepper to make the robot even smarter.
Domino’s Also Turns to Robots
Pizza Hut isn’t the only pizza chain turning to robots for help. Domino’s is testing a prototype pizza delivery robot in New Zealand that has four wheels, is less than three feet tall, and has a heated compartment that can hold up to 10 pizzas. It can deliver pizzas within a 12.5-mile radius before needing to be recharged.
The DRU is actually quite impressive. It’s filled with thousands of dollars worth of military robotics technology, uses LIDAR to map its environment, and has built-in GPS tracking that syncs with Google Maps. Check out the DRU in action below: