Cruise ships are full of crucial pieces of technology; Pepper the robot is not one of those. The humanoid, multilingual robot that will sail on two European brands is more of a marketing ploy than practical tool.
Cruise lines have added skydiving simulators, breweries, and Broadway shows as a way to liven up their onboard offerings.
Two of Carnival Corporation’s European brands announced Tuesday that they are taking a sci-fi approach with their latest effort. A group of humanoid robots called Pepper will join the ranks of two ships in the AIDA and Costa brands in the spring. Come summer, the Peppers will expand to other ships in each fleet.
Pepper was created by French robotics company Aldebaran, part of Tokyo-based SoftBank Group. On the German and Italian ships, the robots will be tasked with giving passengers directions, recommendations, restaurant information, and excursion tips.
The Costa Group signed an agreement worth more than a million euros for use of the robots, the company said, with a goal to “delight guests of all ages.”
If guests aren’t delighted, Pepper will probably be able to tell. Unlike Royal Caribbean International’s robotic bartenders — which can mix cocktails but can’t offer a sympathetic ear — Pepper was designed to recognize emotions and react accordingly. The bots on the European ships will speak German, Italian, and English.
“With an emotional robot on board our cruise ships, we are once again continuing our tradition of innovation,” said Michael Thamm, CEO of the Costa Group, in a statement. “For us, this is an important step towards a digital future for our brands.”
Photo credit: A press image of the Pepper robot in a school setting. Emma Innocenti / Aldebaran