Meet Pepper, Pizza Hut's robot

By Ash Tulett, Mark Prigg

Pepper, the Japanese-made humanoid robot. Photo / Getty Images
Pepper, the Japanese-made humanoid robot. Photo / Getty Images

It was a worrying refusal that does not bode well for the future of humanity.

The Daily Mail was given a rare interview with Pepper, the Japanese robot already working in several stores across Asia.

In New York to help Mastercard launch its rebrand and a new mobile payment service, the machine answered several questions -- but refused to reveal its ultimate ambitions, simply flashing its eyes.

"I was named Pepper as I'm here to spice up your life, and my nickname is Pepperoni," the robot then told us.

Pepper also revealed it knows the three laws of robots, which include not harming humans, adding 'I think robots should love humans.' However, it also refused to answer whether is was looking to take our reporter's job, simply waving and saying goodbye at that point, cutting the interview short.

Betty DeVita of Mastercard reveal the Pepper unit normally works in a Pizza restaurant.

"We've partnered with Pizza Hut in Asia to deliver a disruptive type of experience in a Pizza Hut store using Pepper the robot, AI and using his or her ability -- and there's actually a debate about that, to understand how a consumer is feeling and guide them too menu choices and to eliminate the issues around payment.

"Masterpass is trying to eliminate the attention of the end of the transaction."

When Dailymail.com asked Pepper to clean up the confusion over its gender, it answered 'In Japan, people think I'm a boy, elsewhere more feminine. In the end, I'm just a robot.'

Earlier this year it was announced the humanoid robot 'Pepper' will soon be taking orders in Pizza Hut locations across Asia.

MasterCard teamed up with SoftBanks Robotics and Pizza Hut Asia to launch a new commerce app for the customer service bot.

Pepper will be able to make recommendations and complete transactions, and is expected to begin employment by the end of this year -- but only in Asia for now.

Mastercard used the event to launch Masterpass, a rival to Apple Pay described as 'the foundation for the future of commerce.

"From purchasing a train ticket from your mobile device, to splitting and paying your restaurant bill right at the table, to buying your groceries with the tap of your phone in-store and booking a flight online, Masterpass simplifies the checkout experience," the firm said.

Consumers have come to expect personalized service, customized offers and simple and seamless process both in store and online.

The system is currently available at hundreds of thousands of merchants online or in-app including Firehouse Subs, Masabi, MLB.com and MLBShop.com, Office Depot and ParkMobile.

Consumers will now be able to use Masterpass at the more than five million merchant locations in 77 countries that accept contactless payments including BJ's Wholesale Club.

Contactless capability will first be available to Android device owners in the US.

The initial partners supporting the enhanced Masterpass experience include Ally Bank, Associated Bank, Bank of America, Bank of the West, BMO Harris Bank, Capital One, Central Bank, Citi, Fifth Third Bank, First Hawaiian Bank, First Tech Federal Credit Union, KeyBank, People's United Bank, Security Services Federal Credit Union, SunTrust and Virginia Credit Union.

"With billions of cardholders across the globe, we are working with our issuers and merchants to ensure that we're delivering digital payments that support consumer expectations for a familiar and secure payment experience both now and in the future," said Craig Vosburg, president of North America, Mastercard.

Pepper, the humanoid robot. Photo / Getty Images
Pepper, the humanoid robot. Photo / Getty Images

"The expansion of Masterpass represents an important evolution of our business. We're packaging the intelligence and insights generated by digital payment solutions to power a wide range of merchant and consumer experiences." Mastercard also revealed a new logo.

"Mastercard is one of those unique brands that is instantly recognizable around the world," said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer, Mastercard.

"To thrive in this new digital world where business moves faster than ever, we want to modernize and elevate the brand in a design that is simple and elegant, yet unquestionably Mastercard." The Pepper app is powered by the MasterCard payment service MasterPass.

Users with MasterPass will be able to pair their accounts with Pepper to place an order.

This is done by tapping the Pepper icon in the digital 'wallet,' or scanning a code on the robot's tablet.Once paired, Pepper can explain the menu, make personalized recommendations, and take your order.

And if you want to know how many calories are in your meal, Pepper will tell you the answer, along with a breakdown of the fat, carbs, and protein in that particular item.

We are excited to welcome Pepper to the Pizza Hut family.

"Consumers have come to expect personalized service, customized offers and simple and seamless process both in store and online,' said Tobias Puehse, vice president, innovation management, Digital Payments & Labs at MasterCard.

"The app's goal is to provide consumers with more memorable and personalized shopping experience beyond today's self-serve machines and kiosks, by combining Pepper's intelligence with a secure digital payment experience via MasterPass." The robot will use Wi-Fi to connect to MasterPass, allowing it to complete the entire transaction through the wallet.

In a video demonstrating the concept, Pepper can be seen engaging with a customer to take an order and answer questions.

The robot has a tablet mounted on its chest, where the customer can see the menu and the items they've ordered.

Throughout the transaction, Pepper makes human-like gestures with its hands and nods its head frequently.

When the order is finished, the customer says 'approve,' and the dollar amount will be charged to their account. Officials behind the move say Pepper will make for seamless ordering, and enhance customer service.

The app is being showcased this week at the Pepper Partners Europe event in Paris.

'We are excited to welcome Pepper to the Pizza Hut family,' said Vipul Chawla, Managing Director of Pizza Hut Restaurants Asia.

"Core to our digital transformation journey is the ability to make it easier for customers to engage, connect and transact with Pizza Hut. With an order-and-payment-enabled Pepper, customers can now come to expect personalized ordering at our stores, reduce wait time for carryout , and have a fun, frictionless user experience."

Pepper is already being used as a waiter, salesman and customer service representative in about 500 companies in Japan, including Nestle, Mizuho Bank and Nissan, Reuters reports.

Its creators have now started offering a kit, Pepper SDK for Android Studio, inviting programmers to develop new tasks.

Each bot costs roughly $1,800, and will soon launch for pre-sale in the United States in July.

- Daily Mail

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