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NEWS Last modified on January 25, 2017

Robot helpers in restaurants – the future is now at Oakland International Airport

Global restaurateur, HMSHost, has joined forces with SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA) to launch a new pilot programme with Pepper the humanoid robot at the Oakland International Airport.

Beginning this week, Pepper will greet and engage with guests at HMSHost’s Pyramid Ale Taproom in Terminal 2, offering assistance, menu recommendations and directions to travelers, beginning their journeys with a memorable encounter.

Utilising dedicated applications built specifically for HMSHost, Pepper will invite airport passengers to visit Pyramid Ale Taproom, offering them guidance on food and drink selections based on their personal taste preferences, while detailing Pyramid’s award-winning craft beers. 

Through an interactive map displayed on Pepper’s screen, the robot can also help travelers find their gate, restrooms, exits and more. 

According to HMSHost, Pepper will proactively field these questions from airport visitors, enabling wait staff to focus on their customers.
“At HMSHost, we are always working to identify the next opportunity to elevate the guest experience at airports,” enthuses HMSHost's vice president of innovation Jim Schmitz. 

“Through constant innovation, we aim to engage with travellers and assist them on their journey. We are very excited to introduce them to Pepper as part of these efforts.”

With large expressive eyes and lifelike movements and gestures, the 4-foot-tall humanoid robot was designed to interact and communicate with guests. 

Pepper’s pilot with HMSHost continues the robot’s deployment with national and independent retailers and restaurants throughout North America. 

Utilised for brand and customer engagement roles, Pepper has brought value to its partners, generating increased foot traffic and reinventing the customer experience.

“HMSHost is leading the charge to innovate the airport experience,” says Steve Carlin, vice president and general manager of SoftBank Robotics America. 

“With this programme, travellers from all over the world will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Pepper, getting a taste of the future of hospitality and travel.”

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