Pepper, which can detect whether people are wearing face masks and if not, instructs them to wear them, is displayed at French robotics developer SoftBank Robotics in Paris. Photo: REUTERS

COVID robocop: the droid that reminds you to wear your mask


Engineers have developed a robot that can detect whether people are wearing a mask to guard against COVID-19 and, if not, politely remind them to put one on.

The feature is an upgrade of Pepper, a 120-cm-high robot with human-like features that is already in operation in some countries welcoming visitors to shops, exhibitions and other public spaces.

Pepper's camera scans the faces of people approaching it, and if it detects the lower half of their face is uncovered, it pronounces the phrase: "You have to always wear a mask properly."

If it sees that the visitor then puts on a mask, the robot follows up with the phrase: "Thank you for having put on your mask."

The idea is not to have a robot police whether people are wearing masks, but to provide a friendly reminder, said Jonathan Boiria, head of sales in Europe for SoftBank Robotics, the company behind Pepper.

"Shops have to assign people at the entrance, a lot of people, to ensure respect for the wearing of masks, and sometimes that is a stretch," Boiria told Reuters in Paris.

"A robot allows you to free up some people so they can focus on their normal tasks."

"We're all human. Sometimes I take off my mask when I get off the bus and I forget to put it back on when I arrive at the office. The robot provides a reminder. We can all get it wrong or forget."

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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The photo is scary! Pepper looks like a crazy robot coming towards you.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pepper looks like a crazy robot coming towards you.

No, it looks like a plastic toy with a tablet round its neck.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Doesn’t look intimidating enough! Now if you used the Boston Dynamics Big Dog robot — then people will comply very quickly!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Not intimidating enough. Need ED-209.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Indeed, an ugly outdated toy. If that is Softbanks Hi-TEC’s best effort they better close doen.

a1960 wind up toy with a camera will look better.


-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This robocop looks like a Fisher Price toy robot, kind of like the ones I played with as a kid.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WHY? Why, why, why....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cool! Japan should definitely eye exporting a lot of of this tech worldwide, the applications are limitless.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Fine. Put a mask on that hideous robot, first of all.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Let's just call it as it is, a tape-recorder in a huge plastic robot-shaped body. Nothing else. GEEZ.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I give it a month before someone punches it with one of the following excuses:

”I didn’t want to wear a mask “

”I was drunk and I can’t remember”



”I wanted to know how it feels to kill a robot”

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Have the robo Pepper guy pull out a hypodermic needle and really scare the beejeezus out of the non mask wearing culprit. If not, then don't waste your time.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I do not understand this robot-mania in Japan.

I do not judge, I just do not understand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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