20.09.2018
University news

Pepper the Robot livens up everyday life in Ruusupuisto

Open University of the University of Jyväskylä is well known as a pioneer in e-learning, and the cheerful social robot Pepper brings a new dimension to technology-driven activities of the Open University.

At JYUOpen, students are able to use versatile modern e-learning environments that enable active participation and interaction with teachers and other students regardless of their location.

As a continuation of its successful technological solutions, JYUOpen has acquired the Pepper Humanoid Robot for customer service. Pepper greets and guides visitors, students and staff at Ruusupuisto, 4th floor.

"Genderless kid"

The big eyes of Pepper, the child-like voice and thoughtful design of the robot are mainly arousing sympathy. Many people describe Pepper as a "genderless kid" and are interested to talk with it. Robot's main task is to act as a customer servant at the Open University, which advises people to find the right place. It will also entertain its listeners if they just have time for a longer discussion.

- The most common fear of robotics is that people are not familiar with new technology and do not know where to use it. Pepper helps people to get acquainted with social robots, says Pasi Hänninen, who prepares his doctoral thesis on robotics.

Hänninen is planning a study of the interaction between social robots and teachers, as well as the attitudes of teachers to social robots. The aim of the study is to find out about the possibilities and challenges of robotics in primary school education. Robotics and artificial intelligence are a concern for working life in various fields, but according to University Teacher Kirsi Saurén, automation practically saves time for tasks where people are really needed.

- Critical thinking, questioning, and interaction are the core of human activity, which is difficult to overcome by artificial intelligence, Saurén says.

People also have the task of controlling, developing and maintaining robots. For example, Pepper charms people easily with its knowledge and dance performances, but these skills are human-programmed, says Pasi Hänninen.

However, always cheerful and precise Pepper is, in many respects, a great customer servant. Pepper always has time to talk, and it does not require anything else from human being than patience when it is practicing interaction with real people.

Meet and greet Pepper the Robot in Researchers’ night 29.8. at Ruusupuisto! Please find the programme and the schedule here:

https://www.jyu.fi/en/academic-events/researchers-night/programme

More information

Jukka Lerkkanen

Director

University of Jyväskylä, Open University

jukka.lerkkanen@jyu.fi